How to build trust and intimacy in a relationship

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Let’s talk trust and intimacy.

Next to love, these two elements are the glue that keeps romantic relationships from falling apart.

But how do you build trust and intimacy in a new relationship? Or how do you rebuild trust and intimacy in a relationship on the verge of collapse?

Romantic relationships are and will always be a tricky code to crack. But we can certainly work on things within our control – like trust and intimacy.

That said, here’s a structured and practical approach to how to build trust and intimacy in a relationship:

1) Practice open communication

Clear and honest communication should be a given in any form of relationship.

It’s not about spilling everything that comes to mind. 

Instead, it’s about expressing your feelings and thoughts without fear of judgment. It’s being comfortable with speaking the truth without fear of backlash.

It could be as simple as asking if everything is okay when you notice your partner not being their usual self.

It could be as inspiring as sharing your goals and dreams, or it could be as triggering as having conversations about past traumas. 

It includes awkward conversations, too, like talking about your desires and needs in the bedroom.

Make open conversation a regular thing. Check with each other often about where your relationship stands and discuss any issues you may have.

And it doesn’t stop there. 

Effective communication isn’t just about talking. It’s also about how you listen to your partner and how you make them feel heard.

Remember that open communication is a two-way street.

2) Be consistent

Consistency is another answer for how to build trust in a relationship.

Your partner’s trust in you is the result of your behavior towards them over time. So consistently doing what you say and delivering on your promises is a sure way of earning and keeping their trust.

Don’t love bomb them for weeks and then give them the cold shoulder the next. Don’t bail on them when you said you would show up. 

Be consistent. Make sure your actions match your words.

But wait, there’s more:

Consistency also has the power to boost your relationship’s intimacy. 

Like regular date nights, for example. But don’t take my word for it. Here are researches that back this up:

A 2022 American report revealed that around 67% of spouses who go on frequent dates report high satisfaction in their physical intimacy. 

A year before that, a Canadian study was published reporting that couples who regularly go on date nights have increasing levels of intimacy compared to those who don’t.  

Go ahead, grab your calendars, and start planning your rendezvous!

3) Be comfortable being vulnerable

I get it. It can be terrifying and sometimes awfully embarrassing to let your guard down and show someone the unreserved version of you.

After all, it’s not always easy to share our insecurities and fears. And it’s even harder to show and admit our imperfections. 

But this is how I see it:

When we’re comfortable being vulnerable around our partners, we send them two important messages:

  • (1) we trust them enough to be our unfiltered selves around them; and
  • (2) it’s okay for them to be vulnerable around us too.

And when you both get past the uncomfortable first moments of vulnerability, you will find these moments are actually the ones that made your bond stronger. 

While we’re at the topic of vulnerability, let’s be honest about missing or losing trust and intimacy in a relationship.

It’s not easy. It’s enough to make you want to give up on love and walk away. 

But I want to suggest a solution. You have all the tools you need to rebuild these right now, right where you are. 

I learnt about this from the modern-day shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me how the lies we tell ourselves about love are part of what traps us in thoughts like: trust can’t be built or regained or that intimacy can’t be made stronger or re-ignited. 

As Rudá explains in this transformational free video, love, including trust and intimacy, is always available to us if we cut through the lies that we tell ourselves. 

We need to face the facts that strengthening trust and intimacy requires ongoing effort to keep a healthy and loving relationship.

The alternative is to end up in loveless relationships or endless dating frustration that only leaves us cold and empty. 

The alternative is to be sunk in stagnant codependency and completely unable to resolve things like broken trust or lack of intimacy in a relationship. 

Rudá’s teachings showed me a whole new perspective. 

While watching, I felt like someone understood my struggles and finally offered an actual, practical solution to my questions on how do you build a strong intimate relationship? Or how do you fix trust issues in a relationship?

If you’re done with wasting your time on love that doesn’t work, I invite you to watch this short video and open your mind to new possibilities. 

Click here to watch the free video.

4) Give and receive emotional support

Emotional support is all about being there for your partner no matter what.

What does this look like in everyday life?

It could be a tight hug when they’re feeling down. Or it could be just listening and allowing them to vent out after a long and stressful day.

Being emotionally supportive could also mean staying up when they pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline. Or going on a short jog with them to ease their anxiety over an upcoming job interview.

Whatever way you decide to express it, letting your partner know and feel that you have their back – and them letting you know they have yours – is one of the best trust-building exercises lovers could practice.

When you allow yourself to be your partner’s emotional safe haven, you create a sense of emotional security that deepens your relationship’s intimacy.

5) Respect each other’s boundaries

Your relationship should be one of your comfort zones.

Read that again. 

Notice the words “one of”? That’s because your relationship shouldn’t be your sole comfort zone.

Here’s why:

Healthy relationships are those where the partners respect and acknowledge each other’s comfort zones – beyond the relationship and away from each other.

When you set boundaries and acknowledge each other’s individuality, it’s like assuring your partner they can trust you to respect their needs.

It may sound counterintuitive, but allowing your partner to grow as an individual enhances the intimacy in your relationship.

Think about it:

When you watch each other grow, your admiration grows too. You’ll also feel the intimacy getting stronger when you cheer for each other while you’re each on your way to achieving the best versions of yourselves.

6) Practice the art of forgiveness

Mistakes are as inevitable as change, so being generous with forgiveness is another crucial step in building trust and intimacy in a relationship.

I’m not saying that all mistakes are forgivable. 

But if you hold on to all of your partner’s shortcomings without forgiving them, you might as well break up.

So how do you build trust and intimacy through forgiveness?

Consider this:

When your partner screws up and apologizes, forgiving them shows your willingness to maintain trust. It’s like saying, “ok, let’s move past this; I trust it won’t happen again.”

If your partner shares the same willingness to uphold the trust, then surely they will try their best to prevent the same mistake from happening again.

The bonus is sometimes, they exert extra effort to win your trust back, which almost always translates to deeper intimacy.

Win-win, right?

7) Spend quality time

Having time together is another key to strengthening trust and intimacy in a romantic relationship.

We briefly touched on this earlier when we talked about consistency.

I’m mentioning it again to emphasize that when spending time with your romantic partner, your focus should be quality over quantity.

To explain this better, let’s look at two scenarios:

  • You spend the entire afternoon with your partner. But throughout this time, you were Facetiming with friends, and your partner was on the Xbox. 
  • You have lunch with your partner before you both head back to work. During this time, you discussed how your day has been so far and what you’d like to do after dinner later.

Between both scenarios, which one do you think created a more intimate bond?

The second, right?

I rest my case.

Quality over quantity equals intimacy.

8) Express your appreciation – always

Regularly thanking your partner creates a positive space for growing trust and intimacy.

Look at the scientific proof of this:

In a 2012 publication by the American Psychology Association, three separate studies on gratitude and relationships were reported.

Here’s the thing: 

All of the studies concluded that gratitude is vital for maintaining intimate bonds.

Not only that, one of the studies found that those partners who regularly expressed gratitude were more likely to stay in the relationship longer.

And it gets better:

The other study involved outsiders observing the couples and their levels of gratitude. They noted that thankful partners appeared more connected and attentive to each other than those who expressed appreciation less.

So, have you thanked your partner today?

9) Get physical!

Have you heard of the “cuddle chemical,” the “bonding hormone,” or the “love hormone”?

If not, I’ve got you.

All three terms refer to the same thing: oxytocin.

Oxytocin is a chemical produced by your brain. Its primary function is to help women with childbirth, but it’s also known to play an important role in promoting trust and strengthening our bonds with our loved ones.

Here’s the kicker:

Physical affection, like hugging, cuddling, kissing, or even sexual arousal and orgasm, triggers the release of oxytocin.

So if we follow the logic, the more physically affectionate you are, the more oxytocin is released and therefore, we develop stronger bonds and trust.

But wait, before you go and give your partner a hug, bear with me.

There’s only one more item left on our guide on how to build trust and intimacy in a relationship.

So here’s the last, but definitely not the least:

10) Keep learning from the process

Building trust and intimacy is a trial-and-error journey, and let me tell you now, you will fall a few times along the way.

The key is for you and your partner to take advantage of your stumbles – learn and grow from them.

The more you learn from your relationship setbacks, the better partner you become, and the more intimate and trusting your relationship will be.

Love and learn.

It’s a lifetime commitment, not a one-night stand

By now, you can probably tell that there’s no shortcut to achieving a remarkably trusting and incredibly intimate relationship.

It’s a continuous process that involves consistent, day-to-day actions. 

Building trust and intimacy needs time, effort, and bucketloads of patience and understanding. 

But the reward is definitely worth it: an intimate relationship stronger than ever.

Now what are you waiting for? 

Go and give your partner a cuddle!

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

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