We hear it all the time — that trust is the foundation of every strong and healthy relationship.
So what do you do if that trust is gone, or was never really there, to begin with?
Whether infidelity, secrecy, broken promises or even your partner’s own paranoia and past have damaged the bond between you, there are ways to repair it.
In this article, we’ll walk you through 5 essential steps to rebuilding trust in a relationship. As well as the best thing to do, depending on the reason why trust is missing.
What do I do if my boyfriend doesn’t trust me? 5 effective ways to build trust in a relationship
1) Be open and honest
The reason that trust is so important in a relationship is because that is how we feel safe and secure. We don’t need to second guess whether someone can be relied upon and is honest with us — we know it.
That’s also why one of the most fundamental places to start from when building or rebuilding trust is honesty.
Transparency does not mean an invasion of privacy. We all still have the right to that, even in a relationship. So it certainly doesn’t mean he gets to read your diary or access your phone whenever he likes, to check up on you.
It just means being open and honest about whatever is going on in your lives. That could be expressing how you are feeling, to disclosing who you’re with and what you’re doing.
Sometimes secrecy and lies happen in a relationship for what actually feels at the time like the best of intentions.
We may not want to upset our SO, or rock the boat. Instead, it can feel easier to tell a so-called little white lie, rather than the truth which we worry will cause problems or arguments in our relationship.
For example, you might worry that your boyfriend wouldn’t be very happy to hear that you’re hanging out with a guy friend alone, so wonder if it’s better to simply not tell him.
After all, nothing bad is happening, so why not shield him from this information that he won’t like. But hiding anything is the breeding place of mistrust.
Transparency makes us feel more confident that our partner not only trusts us with the truth but also has nothing to hide.
2) Be true to your word
Our words are powerful, but when it comes to building trust, they need to be backed up by our behaviour. It’s no use telling your partner they can trust you, they need to see that it’s true for themselves.
Some people are prepared to offer trust on goodwill, but others (especially depending on their past experiences) could find that more difficult.
Either way, reliability in a relationship is something we build on, after proving that we do what we say we will do. It requires consistently showing up for someone in the way that we have said we will.
Too many broken promises or empty words that aren’t backed up with action can lead us to feel like someone has let us down or lied to us.
Although we all need to compromise in relationships, it’s better to say no or explain when you disagree with your boyfriend, rather than go along with something just because you think it might be easier.
That’s why it’s important to honour the commitments you make and resist the urge to make any promises that you don’t know you can keep.
3) Respect boundaries
Boundaries are basically invisible lines that we draw. They are designed to protect us by creating rules about what’s ok and what’s not ok in our lives. They draw a circle around us to block out certain destructive behaviours or words that we simply won’t tolerate.
In a relationship, you are likely to have both personal boundaries and agreed upon boundaries as a couple too.
The ones you set in your partnership may need some negotiation as you consider and compromise over two people’s wants and needs.
Some couples may find this an easier process than others.
You might discover that your ideas of how to behave are very similar. But if you have different thoughts on what’s ok and what’s not ok — this can be when trust problems grow.
Friendships with exes, going out partying alone, not replying straight away to messages — there are no wrongs or rights around many sensitive issues in a partnership, but it’s normal for us to have very different ideas and feelings about these types of things.
You’ll both need to be honest with one another about your own expectations and desires in the relationship.
You can then decide what is non-negotiable for you and what you let go off or find a middle ground on.
4) Admit to your mistakes
It’s difficult to move forward and rebuild lost trust if we’re not prepared to back down and admit where we may have messed up in the past.
Sometimes this is less about shouldering blame and more about recognising when your partner is hurting. Acknowledging their feelings allows them to feel seen and heard by you.
It can take a big person to be able to swallow their pride for the sake of the relationship.
Which is why this vulnerability is also so powerful.
Not everything can be fixed with the offer of a “sorry”, but it’s a good place to start if you have made some mistakes.
Even if you feel like you haven’t done anything wrong, you can still talk to your guy about what he feels has gone wrong and how his interpretation of things leaves him feeling distrustful.
There may well be things that you simply didn’t realize were triggering him that can be easily fixed.
5) Keep talking
Keeping the lines of communication open in a relationship is essential to fixing any issues that you have.
That means keeping your boyfriend in the loop about how you feel and what you think about important issues in your relationship.
Communication is a two-way street, so you should also check in with him to find out how he is feeling — asking questions and really listening to the answers.
This can feel very vulnerable, as it’s sometimes easier when we think things are going wrong to put up protective walls and retreat into ourselves.
This is why relationships often break down not from the problem itself, but an inability to communicate properly about it. After all, we cannot make things right when we cannot talk openly and calmly about our difficulties.
Go easy on yourself, most of us can find communicating well in a relationship challenging, but ultimately it’s just about making sure you keep on talking.
My boyfriend doesn’t trust me but I haven’t done anything
If you love your boyfriend and are happy in the relationship, you could be feeling pretty frustrated and angry that he just doesn’t seem to trust you.
When you know that you’ve done nothing to provoke this mistrust, it can feel very unfair.
Insecure people can find that it spills over into their relationships and they become more needy, jealous and find it hard to trust others.
- Accuse you of things you haven’t done.
- Be overly jealous and protective
- Misunderstand or misinterpret what you say
- Make excuses and justifications for how he behaves.
You should never have to tolerate controlling or abusive behaviour in a relationship, which is why firm boundaries will be essential if you’re going to be able to move forwards.
If you want to try and resolve things, you will need to focus on creating healthy expectations within the relationship.
Both of you need to agree on what that will look like — what is and what isn’t appropriate behaviour for building trust.
Examples of reasonable expectations might be:
- Telling your partner who you are with and what you are doing
- Checking in with your boyfriend when you haven’t spoken for a while
- Letting your boyfriend know what time you might be home
Examples of unreasonable expectations might be:
- Trying to control who you see, what you do and where you go
- Trying to monitor, spy or check up on you
- Wanting you to be in constant contact and getting upset if they don’t instantly hear back from you
- Accusing you of doing things that are totally unfounded
My boyfriend doesn’t trust me because I lied
The truth is that lying is pretty common in relationships. What is more significant is the degree to which we do it, as well as the frequency and overall context in which we lie.
Research suggests that everybody lies, but it’s all on a spectrum.
Little lies or fibs are fairly frequent amongst couples. An example of this type of lie might be pretending to enjoy a meal your partners cooked to spare their feelings.
But even seemingly innocent untruths can add up to be more harmful than we think, as clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD told Women’s Health.
“Even small ticket lies repeated day after day can harm a relationship…The more lies, the more you crack the foundation and the basis of a relationship…It means that partners share less, are less intimate, and have less empathy and compassion.”
But it’s the bigger and badder lies that cause real damage and shake trust in a relationship.
If lying has impacted your trust levels, start by being totally transparent and open. Be prepared to answer any questions your boyfriend might have.
Then follow steps to rebuild the lost trust by continuing with greater honesty and clearer boundaries in the future.
My boyfriend doesn’t trust me because of my past
All of us have a past. All of us have probably done things we later regretted or don’t feel so proud of.
Our perceived failings in life are actually how we learn and grow as people. Nobody is perfect and we have to forgive ourselves for errors of judgement that we may make along the way.
If you’ve been beating yourself up about any indiscretions in your past, you should forgive yourself and know that you are only human.
Whilst being judged now for things in our past can feel a bit unfair, we also need to recognise that, to a certain extent, it is understandable.
That doesn’t mean it’s ok for you to be labelled untrustworthy just because you’ve messed up before, it just means that you may have to accept that someone could feel a bit more weary because of it.
Trust isn’t always instant and is something we build, which can take time. As you prove to your boyfriend who you are now, his confidence in you should grow.
But ultimately your boyfriend has to be prepared to offer his trust now based on how you treat him, not how you have behaved with others in the past.
My boyfriend doesn’t trust me because of his past
There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than feeling like we are being punished for someone else’s sins. But the truth is that all of us are heavily shaped by the experiences we go through in life.
When someone has been left weary or even traumatised by events that happened before you came along — their response is affected by things you have no control over.
That means if your boyfriend has had trust problems or been cheated on in previous relationships, defence mechanisms could quickly show up, even though you’ve never given him any reason to be concerned.
If you have strong feelings for your boyfriend and want to work things out, you may need to be more patient and understanding as you navigate his trust issues.
Having said that, you cannot do anything to make him magically trust you. So it’s also important that he accepts his responsibility.
Although you might be able to reassure him a little, at the end of the day, he needs to be prepared to change for things to improve.
That starts with him recognizing any unhealthy baggage that he is carrying with him into your relationship and a willingness to process and let go of it.
My boyfriend doesn’t trust me anymore
When your boyfriend doesn’t trust you anymore, the first priority is to get to the bottom of why.
If there once was trust but that has faded or been lost, do you know the cause?
- Has something in particular happened with the relationship to weaken the trust? (e.g. cheating or lying)
- Has something happened to your boyfriend that could have impacted his own confidence so that he feels more threatened within the relationship? (e.g. low self-esteem, depression or anxiety)
- Has there been a breakdown in communication recently?
My boyfriend doesn’t trust me because i cheated on him
It can be challenging to build trust again after cheating, but it definitely can be done. In fact, about 70% of couples do stay together after some kind of indiscretion.
Not all cheating is sexual — emotional cheating can also break down trust and intimacy.
But often cheating is the symptom of other problems within the relationship rather than the specific cause of problems.
Sure, people make silly mistakes in the heat of the moment, but it’s also often the case that you cheat when you’re not happy in a relationship for some reason.
Understanding the real issues in your relationship that led you to this point is going to be essential in getting that trust back.
That will mean being honest with not only your boyfriend but also yourself. Do some soul searching to find out why you cheated in the first place.
Be prepared to put time into slowly re-earning your boyfriends trust again, and know that it may not happen overnight.
Bottom line: Can a relationship last without trust?
Even though some relationships can and do last without trust, it’s more a question of the quality of that relationship — which without trust is obviously going to suffer.
Can you love someone and not trust them? Absolutely. But sadly many couples discover that love isn’t everything in a relationship.
You also need some firm foundations — like trust, communication and respect — to build that love upon if it’s going to last.
What happens when your partner doesn’t trust you? You’re likely to find yourself in cycles of arguing, upset and anxiety.
It’s just so difficult to feel secure within a relationship without mutual trust. Eventually, this mistrust can worsen to create an atmosphere that feels stifling and volatile.
If your boyfriend doesn’t trust you, you could notice he’s jealous, angry or guarded towards you — and ultimately these are not the emotions that loving relationships flourish on.
That’s why it’s important to invest time and energy into fixing trust issues. Because it can take time to prove to somebody that we can be trusted, be prepared to take small steps and don’t expect too much too soon.
If despite all your efforts you find that you can’t resolve your trust problems — it may be time to consider going your separate ways.
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