Relationships are mysterious. We doubt the positive qualities in others, seldom the negative. You will say to your partner: do you really love me? Are you sure you love me? You will ask this a dozen times and drive the person nuts. But you never ask: are you really mad at me? Are you sure you’re angry? When someone is angry, you don’t doubt it for a moment. Yet the reverse should be true. We should doubt the negative in life, and have faith in the positive. – Christopher Pike
Defining Trust in a Relationship
Trust is the foundation and the most vital part of any relationship, whether platonically, occupationally, or romantically. Specifically, in romantic relationships, trust is needed to form deeper bonds, emotionally intimate experiences, and healthy boundaries and communication.
If an individual doesn’t trust their partner, they also may not feel safe enough to openly communicate, and increase their emotional, physical, and spiritual intimacy. So, what is trust? Trust can be described as a true belief in the reliability of another person.
There are different layers to trust and/or trusting yourself and your partner in your relationship.
Taking time to understand why you may not trust yourself is a priority. Sometimes you may have difficulty due to past abuse, challenges in childhood, regrets you may have about past decisions, and feeling like you constantly disappoint yourself. But, trusting yourself is something you have to build to trust other people, especially a partner.
Trusting your partner
Trusting your partner takes dedication and true vulnerability. Trusting your partner takes time, and being aware of your triggers may impact your ability to trust your partner. It’s understanding that sometimes people make mistakes, and with forgiveness, individuals can learn to build that trust up again.
How can I build trust with my partner if I don’t trust myself?
Building trust with your partner while a vital piece to a healthy relationship can only be done if you are willing to do that for yourself as well. Trusting yourself is about leaning on your intuition, being vigilant, and understanding what you need as a person and in your relationship.
Can you trust yourself to be assertive, to be open, to be vulnerable, to be flexible, compromise, to listen, and to be compassionate. Building trust in oneself means taking small steps and small moments to do so.
However, sometimes it may be easier to trust others versus yourself because you may have disappointed yourself in the past. You have built up many memories, thoughts, and sensations that relate to why you may not trust yourself throughout your life.
But, with your partner, especially if they have not given reason to doubt them, you have a fresh slate where your trust may not have been broken as of yet. Trusting your partner despite the lack of trust you have in yourself says that you are once again giving trust a chance. Give yourself a chance to believe in people and hopefully one day yourself again.
Is it possible to build trust after it’s lost?
Once trust is depleted in a relationship it can take a long time for it to be built up again. Especially if the lack of trust is due to infidelity, dishonesty, or humiliation. Trust is built from the very first date, very first argument, very first smile, and the very first doubt you have in your partner. Trust is being built over the totality of your relationship.
Trust makes you feel like you know exactly what that person is capable of. However, when the trust is broken or lost the brain begins to associate that person with negative feelings, and the Amygdala records these painful memories. So, when your partner does something that maybe you or they are not aware of, it could trigger the Amygdala based response and bring back those same emotions and memories.
This can be fixed and worked on. There are several ways to build it back up. But forgiveness, acknowledgment, and accountability are necessary tools to implement and engage in if the goal is building back up. Each person has to work through the issue that may have broken the trust as two people with an equal goal.
Everyone suffers at least one bad betrayal in their lifetime. It’s what unites us. The trick is not to let it destroy your trust in others when that happens. Don’t let them take that from you. – Sherrilyn Kenyon
5 Ways to Build Trust in a Relationship
- Transparency is the cornerstone to building trust in a relationship. Transparency allows for an individual to show up as their most authentic self, showing their strengths and challenges, failures and successes, traumas, and negative thinking traps as well.
- To be transparent is to establish oneself as open, honest, trustworthy, and credible.
- Communication is another cornerstone of relationships whether romantic or platonic. So many challenges and issues are resolved through open, transparent communication.
- Communicating thoroughly means fully and intentionally describing and or detailing your thoughts, feelings, desires, abilities, grievances, and actions/behaviors.
- Communicating your past traumas, your past core beliefs, issues within other relationships, and what may have created a divide or lack of trust in an individual’s current relationship.
Build trust in small ways as a start
- Fully regaining trust and building it within a relationship is a hard feat. It takes time, energy, consistency, honesty, and willingness. It is challenging and exerts a lot of energy
- Begin by asking for small things or identifying small ways to build that trust.
ID your triggers and how they impact your ability to build trust in your relationship
- Identifying your triggers as to why you may not trust your partner is so important. If there is physical evidence of your partner betraying your trust in any way or if you struggle with past betrayals and that impacts your ability to trust – both are valid and can be harmful.
- Identifying your triggers are about more than just simply listing them like a grocery order. It’s about spending time with yourself and understanding insight and patterns connected to your distrust.
ID where the distrust is coming from and whether it is reasonable or unreasonable
- Even if it’s not reasonable as in your partner has never betrayed you it can still be reasonable in your mind if you process why your mind, body, and spirit are unable to build trust for your partner.
- Reality check where it may come from and share that with your partner so that they understand it may be connected to something in the past and not to your current relationship.
Building trust in any relationship takes time, consistency, and a true desire to have that as the foundation of the relationship. Building trust means taking time to truly learn yourself and learn your partner for who they are, how they think, the challenges they have experienced, and the behaviors with which they may present.
If a relationship is new and each partner is just starting to get to know their partner, trust takes time to build and incorporate. If it’s a partnership where one partner has done something to hurt, betray, or ignite distrust within the relationship then that might take even longer to work through.
Each partner should take some time implementing the above steps on how to build or rebuild trust in a relationship. If both partners have done everything, they can build trust but there is still a lack of trust within the relationship they should think about entering into couples’ therapy.
If you or your partner are unable to build trust between one another, please do consider joining me for couples therapy to process some of the relationship challenges you all may be experiencing.
Trust and faith bring joy to life and help relationships grow to their maximum potential. – Joyce Meyer
“Holding Pinkies”, Courtesy of Jasmine Wallace Carter, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Couple in Love”, Courtesy of Pixabay, Nappy.co, Public Domain; “Woman Reading”, Courtesy of PanetNehemiah, Nappy.co, Public Domain; “Depressed”, Courtesy of VicTor, Nappy.co, Public Domain