All healthy relationships are based on trust. Without it a relationship will not flourish and grow, nor will it have the emotional intimacy that creates genuine connection.
The more you foster trust in your relationship, the safer you will feel. Without this sense of safety it will be very difficult to connect emotionally.
And emotional connection requires deeper revelation of yourself to your partner. It’s hard to maintain a long-term relationship when the only thing keeping you together is the surface-level stuff.
Please note: The following suggestions are for those in healthy relationships who want to improve, or for those who are working on rebuilding trust after it has been broken. It is not intended for those in abusive relationships.
Trust is not something you can demand from a relationship or build overnight. It takes time to develop.
Let’s look at some ways to build trust.
Always tell the truth. Don’t lie to avoid conflict, get out of situations, or to please your partner.
If you are not honest about small things it will be hard for your partner to trust you in bigger things.
However, give feedback respectfully. Honesty does not equal brashness or tactlessness.
Speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
In marriage it is a good rule to never have secrets between each other. Before you’re married – don’t splab all your stuff right at the beginning of the relationship. It is appropriate to reveal your deeper stuff slowly.
For a relationship to deepen you will have to become increasingly vulnerable as it develops. This requires you to open yourself up to the potential risk of being hurt.
Vulnerability means revealing the deeper things about yourself, such as fears, hopes, dreams, spiritual growth and struggles, and exposing aspects of yourself you don’t like.
Trust is developed when you take the risk of being vulnerable, giving your partner the chance to let you down or hurt you, but they don’t.
Every time you treat your partner in a way that breaches a basic level of respect, you damage the connection you have with them and it will be more difficult for them to trust you.
Express feelings without shouting, attacking or shutting down the conversation.
It’s important to be your real self with your partner. This doesn’t mean you should let all your warts hang out from the get-go, but do be yourself. If you don’t like something, say so. Don’t try to change yourself to please the other person.
Have the courage to say no to something that makes you uncomfortable. Being true to yourself requires you to be willing to have others upset with you on occasion. People tend not to trust those who simply say whatever they think others want to hear.
Related: Be True to Yourself
It’s important to match actions with words. Reliability builds trust. If you say you’ll be there to help with something, then be there. Honour your commitments. Do what you say you will do.
The desire to please the other person may cause you to make promises, but be careful not to make promises you can’t keep.
Don’t say things that don’t accurately reflect how you feel.
Your partner is not a mind reader, so let the person know what your needs are, or what you’re thinking.
Don’t leave your significant other guessing, making assumptions, or getting caught off guard.
Accountability is important in every relationship. Admitting and owning mistakes helps your partner to trust you.
Along with admitting the mistake, making a commitment that you will not make it again, or at least making a commitment to work on the issue, will build your partner’s trust in you.
Building trust in a relationship takes time. Here are some trust-building exercises you can do with your partner:
Related: 12 Stages of physical touch
William Shakespeare said the eyes are the window to the soul, suggesting that a person’s eyes can accurately portray their thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Studies show that eye contact triggers the limbic mirror system in your brain that allows you to better understand other people’s emotions and actions.
Doing this will foster connection and build trust.
Guide each other verbally or by the hand through an obstacle course you create inside or outside.
Do a taste test. Lay out samples of food in front of your blindfolded partner – they have to trust that you will not feed them something unpleasant. Switch places so you both have a turn to be blindfolded.
The blindfold challenge forces the blindfolded person to give up control and allow themselves to be in a vulnerable position. It requires trusting your partner.
Which of these things do you struggle with? Why?