They say learning to trust is one of life’s hardest challenges. Does this ring true for you?
You can know someone for five years and not be able to rely on them. You can sleep with them for months, and yet, you can’t bring yourself to trust them. However, if you want a relationship to work, trust is imperative!
Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson said that it’s one of the components needed in order to live a good life. Why? Because if trust is inexistent, feelings of fear and doubt are sure to occur, and it can be quite damaging.
So how do you build trust to have a solid foundation in a relationship? Keep reading and find out eight things that you can do!
1) Be trustworthy
Trust breeds trust. Just like respect, trust goes both ways.
In a relationship, both partners must be honest and faithful in order to build it.
So, it’s not enough that you trust your partner. Your partner must trust you as well.
You have to ensure that these values are reciprocated and that you’re both held accountable for your actions. If your partner has certain expectations that you simply cannot meet, be honest with them.
Do not lie to your partner to “protect” the relationship because I can assure you that doing so will only make things worse.
Be honest. Be faithful. And most importantly, be yourself.
2) “WE” rather than “I”
When you’ve established trust in a relationship, the next thing to work on is your togetherness.
Don’t get me wrong. You should not lose yourself in a relationship. At all times, you should be secure in your identity and what you bring to the table.
However, you do need to adjust to certain changes. When you have a partner, you become a team.
You can’t keep focusing only on your personal desires and needs like when you were single. You have to realize that in a relationship, the desires and needs of your partner are just as important as yours, so you have to learn how to compromise.
This was one of the hardest lessons that my boyfriend and I learned when we were still starting. Whenever we would fight, we would be hostile and defensive.
But when things weren’t working out, we both realized and understood that it should be us against our issues and not turn on each other.
Since then, even though we still have petty arguments, there’s so much more empathy and patience after we’ve outgrown our selfish mindsets.
3) Always remember that communication is key
After laying the foundation of a solid team, the most logical step to take is to maintain consistency. And how can you do that? With efficient communication skills.
Communicating is not just talking. You can spend hours talking to your partner and not be able to address certain issues.
It means opening up, being vulnerable and transparent with your partner.
If you want your relationship to work, you have to try and truly communicate, this includes listening with intention, even though sometimes it can be uncomfortable.
Also, it would be the perfect opportunity to address certain issues that bother you. Try to talk about your concerns, needs, and fears. Ask about your partner’s as well. You cannot build trust where walls are built.
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4) Be mindful of your words
When you have effective tools to communicate with each other, it’s time to work on what you say and how you say it.
Let’s say you and your partner have been together for a long time. You may feel comfortable enough to say certain things and not try to sugarcoat them.
Again, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing more helpful in building trust than honesty. But there is a fine line between being honest and simply being mean.
Sometimes, people say hurtful words to their partners when they are mad. Always keep in mind that people have different perspectives.
There are instances when your intentions may not be clear to your partner, which is why being mindful of your words is imperative. Remember that words can cut just like a knife.
5) Set boundaries
Aside from being mindful of your intentions and how your partner would react to the things you say, you also need to safeguard and check your own boundaries.
To trust means to be vulnerable. It means showing your flaws and being more open to your partner. It also means being accepting of your partner wholeheartedly, even with their imperfections.
But – it does not mean tolerating behaviors that are unacceptable.
In order to build trust in a relationship, you should also know where to draw the line. Boundaries draw the line between what is okay and what is not.
As individuals, it’s important to have personal limits. Discussing them with your partner will help determine the things or people (if any) they should avoid to not break your trust. Of course, you have to ask them about their own also.
Despite the mutual love and respect you have for one another, you and your partner will still have your differences. And discovering those differences and finding your common ground is essential to build trust in your relationship.
6) Be responsible and consistent
After being clear with your boundaries, you should also know how to hold each other accountable in the relationship. After all, you play a part in how your partner is feeling and what they are thinking.
As human beings, it is normal to make mistakes from time to time.
Sometimes in a relationship, we do certain things or say certain words that may hurt our partner. For example, there could also be days when we can’t help but say a little white lie. Maybe those were intentional or purely accidental.
Whatever the case is, it is important that you know how to be responsible with your words and your actions. Both of you should acknowledge the impact that you can have on your partner’s life.
Be responsible and consistent enough to own up to your mistakes and try to actually change for the better. There is nothing more damaging to a relationship than a broken trust followed by more lies and unchanged behavior.
I remember a quote that said, “Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.” (Roy T. Bennett) I think this principle should always guide relationships as it shows how much you value and protect each other.
7) Actions speak louder than words
When you’ve learned how crucial responsibility and consistency are in a relationship, then both need to be shown in action.
We have all heard this before, and as cliché as it may seem, it is the truth: “Actions speak louder than words.”
In order to build trust, your actions should be the same as your words. You can’t promise to be honest and then lie when it gets inconvenient.
You can’t draw a line and then cross it. You can write a whole paragraph on why your partner should trust you, but if you don’t follow through with outward acts, it’s not going to be the same.
If you truly want to build trust in your relationship, you have to be consistent. Your words should be able to match your actions because words without actions are just empty promises.
8) Ask for help from a professional
And when you’ve done all these things, and you’re still not confident if you were able to build trust with your partner, or if you still have doubts and insecurities, then maybe there are underlying issues there that need to be addressed.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to analyze the situation, we just don’t know what to do. And if you ever get caught up in a situation like this, reaching out to a professional such as a therapist or a relationship coach may be helpful.
Professionals may provide you with a unique insight or different perspective about certain issues in your respective relationship that could be helpful to you and your partner.
Can relationships last without trust?
Yes, there are some relationships that last a long time despite the lack of trust. But if you really look into it, what does it say about the quality of the relationship? Is it healthy? Does it give you a sense of security?
Believe me when I tell you this, NO. Not having trust in your partner and in your relationship will only worsen the issues you already have, both personally and as a couple.
There will always be feelings of doubt and paranoia, which can also lead to feelings of jealousy and insecurity that can be really damaging to a person’s self-esteem and mental health.
Can you love someone but not trust them?
Yes. I, for one, know this very well. When I was younger, I had a boyfriend whom I loved very much.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t always honest with me. He did some things that hurt my feelings, and as a result, it broke my trust. But because I loved him, I did not leave. I did not end the relationship – at least not right away.
I gave our relationship another chance. However, as opposed to what other people like Romeo and Juliet would say, our love was not enough.
Despite choosing to forgive him, I could never forget. I could never fully trust him. I would often overthink and get paranoid whenever he spent time with other people.
I started to have doubts. I started having a hard time believing everything he said. I started to question him and our relationship. Eventually, we had to face the inevitable. We broke up.
Bottom line: A relationship without trust is not a healthy relationship. Just like how plants need water and sunlight to live, relationships need both trust and love in order to last.
It cannot be just one or the other. It has to be both. You cannot feel safe and secure in a relationship if you do not trust your partner or vice versa.
“Trust is built when someone is vulnerable and not taken advantage of.”- Bob Vanourek
Building trust is not easy. It takes time, especially if you have had your fair share of lies and betrayals. However, without it, you can only expect a relationship to fail.
Always remember that trust goes both ways. In order for a relationship to have a solid foundation, both must put in the work to build trust in the relationship. It cannot be just you, and it cannot be just your partner.
Of course, no relationship is perfect. Whether we like it or not, relationships will always have to be tested. This is why it is important to invest time, effort and energy in acknowledging and fixing these issues.
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.
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