Trust is an essential foundation for any healthy relationship, romantic or otherwise. Applying practical ways to build trust in a relationship can help us overcome obstacles, heal emotional wounds, and be vulnerable, open, and truly intimate with one another. When we trust someone, we feel more secure and give each other personal space without excuses or justifications.
Trust can be difficult to gain, especially if it has been broken. Difficult, but not impossible. We can begin to use simple, realistic practices every day that will go a long way toward developing feelings of faith, comfort, confidence, and dependability within all of the relationships we value.
Be true to your word. We have all been guilty of breaking promises or saying something with the best intentions, only to fail at following through. When we say what we mean, mean what we say, and take responsibility for our actions, we build trust. Of course, nobody is perfect, and that’s ok. However, proving ourselves to be trustworthy and accountable develops understanding when we do fall short.
Communicate openly and honestly. Most of us value the principle of being honest and telling the truth, but it can be difficult to share thoughts and emotions candidly. We might fear judgment, hurting someone’s feelings, or finding ourselves in an awkward situation. However, openness is essential in a trusting relationship.
Begin by being patient with yourself and your loved one. Allow time to think about what to say to each other so that you can present your feelings or opinions clearly and honestly yet gently, tactfully, and lovingly. Being genuine with one another without fear of rejection or anger is a beautiful way to develop trust.
Establish clear boundaries. It might sound counterintuitive, but healthy boundaries can help us create trust in relationships. Defined boundaries help us determine our emotional and physical comfort levels within a relationship. For instance, we might set boundaries regarding spending time apart or sharing details of the relationship with others. As time passes and we consistently respect one another’s boundaries, we have more faith in our loved ones and relationships.
Discuss expectations. Expectations and boundaries go hand-in-hand. We might feel let down by and lose trust in someone if they don’t live up to our expectations. However, if we don’t share those needs and desires, it can be unfair to assume our loved one understands them. Of course, our expectations must be reasonable. For example, we shouldn’t expect anyone to be responsible for our happiness, but we can anticipate being a priority.
Be vulnerable. Vulnerability leads to increased trust and intimacy. It can help us ask for what we want, feel more connected, and be fully engaged in a relationship, giving and receiving love and affection without hesitation. It begins with knowing ourselves and acknowledging our history. Past experiences can trigger emotional responses that make it hard to let down our guard. If you feel fearful, self-conscious, or uncomfortable, start slowly. Share something small but meaningful with your loved one and encourage them to do the same. As time goes on, it will likely become easier to open up.
Show respect. Treating each other thoughtfully and courteously fosters confidence that our loved one has our best interests at heart. We should always avoid being rude, demeaning, or insulting, even when we disagree. Other subtle ways people can be disrespectful include using sarcasm, ignoring the person, or acting indifferent.
To display respect, we can be mindful of how we communicate, appreciate differences, and accept our loved ones as they are without trying to change them. We can speak kindly, support their interests, value and validate their feelings, compromise, and build them up. In short, we ought to treat them as we hope to be treated.
Take risks together. Research shows that risk-taking helps develop trust. That doesn’t mean we have to engage in reckless behavior. Instead, we can take calculated risks, such as taking on a common challenge or moving to another town. We can take emotional risks as well, such as sharing fantasies or confessions. Doing so can lead to more intimate connections.
Pay close attention. When we are in a relationship with mutual trust and appreciation, we may take the other person for granted at times. There is certainly something extraordinary about the ease of being together doing separate things or enjoying a comfortable silence. But there is a difference between this and simply not giving our full attention.
An easy way to build trust in a relationship is to listen. Putting away the phone or turning away from the television and giving our full, undivided attention says, “What you have to say matters to me. I understand and empathize with you. You can trust me.”