Building And Fixing Trust: 12 Ways You Should Know To Make Trust Last
Trust that who you are and what you have to say is equally important to your partner
This is really a question of your own feelings of self-worth: Do you trust that you're worthy? Many people I talk with have a tendency to put their partner (or sometimes themselves) up on a pedestal, therefore creating emotional or spiritual inequality in the relationship. This leads to the constant feeling that you have to catch up to your partner or that you have to prove your own worth.
As long as you're caught up believing that your partner is somehow superior to you, you are constantly operating from a place of personal lack, which makes trust impossible. In order to build trust, it is fundamental that both people consider each other equally valuable.
It may all be in your head
If you have been betrayed in the past, you may still carry some of that old suspicion with you. If your partner is gone too long or is not answering their cell phone, it can trigger some unhealed wounds. Talk to your other half, and be honest about what you went through, so the two of you can work something out. If you have trust issues from the past, you have to deal with them.
Communication is an important factor in building trust between partners in a relationship. Partners should communicate their problems instead of sitting on them and brooding. When it comes to communication, do it face to face. A personal verbal communication strengthens the bond between partners in a relationship.
Don’t decide to communicate over emails or phone calls, but instead make it more personal and direct. While communicating, make sure you keep an eye contact with your partner as researchers have found out that making frequent eye contact during a discussion strengthens the bond of partners.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say
Even as young children, we pick up very quickly on the clues that someone is saying things that aren't really true. The parent who always threatens to make us leave the restaurant, but we know will never actually follow through; the sister who always promises to share her cookie, but invariably eats the whole thing anyway — we start not to buy what they're claiming anymore. Our instincts for self-protection, honed evolutionarily for survival over thousands of years, typically will take note of the proverbial boy crying wolf. And we will adjust our behavior and expectations accordingly — learning not to trust the person quite as much the next time, in order to not be let down.
So if you are looking to increase trust within your relationship, it's imperative that you stop saying things that you won't follow through on, or that don't represent your actual feelings. Even what seem like minor lies, when chronic, will tell the other person that they should no longer trust the things that come out of your mouth.
Having clear boundaries together is a crucial part of starting to build trust. Boundaries help you define how much space you’re comfortable with in a relationship – be this emotionally or physically.
Boundaries can be about all kinds of things: how much time you need to yourself, how comfortable you are telling other people details about your relationship and so on. Having an understanding of one another’s boundaries is helpful when it comes negotiating your approach to the relationship.
Talk about the long term
Are you looking for a serious relationship with your lover? If you are, you’re obviously in for the long haul. So make plans for it too. Talk about building a bigger house, having a pet dog, or how both your lives would be ten or twenty years from now. By talking about the future, you’re reassuring your partner that you truly want to be with them and see them in your life even as the years and decades pass by.
Create a joint vision of your ideal life together
This is a really fun exercise I like to do with my coaching clients: Write a few paragraphs together describing what your ideal life looks like. How do you want to feel in the morning? How do you see yourselves connecting today and in 5, 10, 30 years? What do you do for fun and pleasure? What do you want the physical parts of your life to look like (like your home, your travels, your hobbies, your circle of friends)? Actively creating your future together bonds enormously.
Give your partner the space he or she needs
Trust can't be forced; it has to be cultivated over time. Giving someone else personal space allows them to reflect and fuel themselves. Plus, they can realize on their own how much they miss you and enjoy your company. In other words, you are giving them the chance to come to you, which is a very different way of forming a deep connection and trust. Love and attention that is given freely is the most beautiful kind.
Learn to say no
It is not everything that your partner wants is what you are willing and able to provide. You don’t have to say yes every time to everything your partner wants or proposes to do. If you don’t like something he or she proposes to do, simply say no. You shouldn’t be subjected to a relationship. You shouldn’t be forced to endure what you don’t like. When a relationship is based on equality, it will be easier for both of you to move forward.
Don’t pander to the whims of your partner just to make him or her happy, as it will ruin the relationship.
Remember the role of respect
One of the most emotionally lasting ways that our partners can damage us — and our trust — is by belittling us, making us feel less-than, or viewing us with condescension or contempt rather than respect. Think of a basic level of respect as the common denominator in any relationship, whether between a cashier and customer or a mother and son. And the more emotionally intimate your relationship, the more important that keeping up that basic level of respect becomes, not less.
Unfortunately, when we are tightly intertwined with someone, we sometimes show them our worst — which can be positive in terms of being vulnerable to them, but it also may involve treating them badly. Ironically, we may lash out at our mother or child or partner in ways that we never would at a cashier — and we forget that respect is even more important with our loved ones because of the damage the lack of it can do over time.
This does not mean that you must be formal or perfectly polite always with your partner. But it does mean that you must remember that every time you treat them in a way that demeans them or violates that basic minimum of dignity and respect, you harm your connection a bit — and make it more difficult for them to trust you over time.
Talk about the people you fancy
This can seem awkward and weird, but this is one of the biggest factors in building trust in a relationship. One of the biggest insecurities in a relationship is the fear of a partner straying away into someone else’s arms or liking someone else secretly. But actually acknowledging that either of you can find someone else attractive, you’re not making it taboo anymore. And by being truthful about it, you can build trust in the relationship and improve communication too. We’ll find out more about how to do this in the next part on improving communication.
Express your feelings functionally, especially when it's tough
Emotional intimacy comes in part from knowing that you can express your feelings to someone, and that they will still care about you, that they will not dismiss you out of hand — that they will be willing to listen. It means that you know they will make time to understand your viewpoint, not to shut it down. This entails the maturity of being able to talk about feelings without escalating into shouting, verbally attacking, or closing down the conversation.
Of course, it is very easy to have a non-emotionally intimate relationship where everyone pretends that everything is fine, and neither person lets the other person in, because neither person truly trusts the other enough to handle their difficult or awkward feelings or thoughts. But if that's what you wanted, you wouldn't be reading this! Work on ways to talk about difficult feelings that feel collaborative, helpful, and respectful. Learn to discuss challenging emotions in ways that don't automatically jump to feeling threatened or starting a conflict.
Many of us have taken cues from our parents about how to talk — or not talk — about tough things, and sometimes those patterns can stunt us. But if you truly want to build trust with someone, you've got to give them the opportunity to make the connection to the real you, including who you are emotionally.
Trust doesn’t just come. It has to be earned — even if you’ve done nothing to break it. And remember, even things that have been built well and have a solid foundation need occasional maintenance. You can’t take love for granted. Ever. Building trust isn’t hard when you approach your relationship with respect and understanding. The basic principle of trust is easy: do what you say you are going to do. Stay true to that and a trusting relationship will naturally begin to form.