You need to know how to build and nurture trust in your relationship, because it’s the foundation of a strong, healthy connection that will stand the test of time. These tips on how to build trust will help you set the stage for a great relationship with your partner.
I wrote Rebuilding Trust in a Relationship After a Secret Love Affair to encourage women who are devastated after finding out their husbands or boyfriends cheated on them. But what about building trust in a new relationship?
Some people believe it’s easier to build trust in a new relationship than try to rebuild trust after it’s been broken…but this isn’t true for everyone. After trust is built, the most important thing is not to destroy it. This means no cheating, lying, or betraying your partner by sharing secrets or talking behind his back. But what about other little deceptions or betrayals that destroy the fabric of trust? Not breaking trust means different things to different people – which is what my first tip on how to build trust in a relationship is all about…
How to Build Trust in a Relationship
“Trust doesn’t happen right away,” writes Harriet Pappenheim in Relationship Red Flags: What You Should Know on the Psych Central website. “It is something that builds over time between two people and becomes a sacred part of their life together. However, if you have a continual sense of uneasiness, you need to pay attention.”
She adds that if your sense your boyfriend or husband isn’t telling you everything, then you need to trust your intuition. If it seems like there’s a great deal you don’t know about him – and he’s unwilling to share – then there may be hiding something. If you feel like your boyfriend or husband has a hard time trusting you or telling you the truth (or vice-versa!) it’s a serious red flag.
These eight ways to build trust will help you make sense of your relationship, and move forward.
1. Decide what relationship trust means to you
Take a moment and write down what trust means to you. What comes into your mind when you think of trust? How do you know you trust someone? How do you show that you trust your partner? Don’t just shrug these questions off – they’re important things to think about when you want to build trust in a relationship. If you’re clear about what trust means to you, you’ll be more successful in building trust with your partner.
2. Find out what trust means to your partner
In my marriage, broken trust means – among other things – infidelity or unfaithfulness. But what does “unfaithfulness” mean, exactly?
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For some couples, it might mean having lunch with a person of the opposite sex. This to me is innocent – I trust my husband when he goes for lunch with his female colleagues. I even trust him when he has lunch with his ex-girlfriend. I’m not concerned that he’ll build a connection with those women.
In other words, I’m not worried about an emotional affair. But maybe you’re different – may you have a valid reason to be concerned about whether or not you trust your partner.
3. Discuss how to build trust in your relationship
Don’t talk about how to build trust in a relationship with people other than your partner. Talking behind his back is not a healthy way to be in a relationship. Even if he never finds out that you discuss your relationship with others, you’re still betraying him. Talk to your partner about how to build trust together.
4. Avoid criticizing your partner’s views of trust
When you and your partner discuss what trust means to both of you, don’t be critical of how he perceives trust. Maybe he has a difficult time trusting women because of his past. Maybe you can’t trust men easily because of your past. When you discuss how to build trust in your relationship, be as accepting and honest as possible with each other. Try to see what trust means from your partner’s perspective, and love him enough to find ways to compromise.
5. Keep your promises
In How to Build Trust With Your Boyfriend, I say that the foundation of a trusting relationship is knowing you can rely on your partner to be there for you. You show up when you say you’re going to, follow through on your promises, and have trusting relationships with your friends and family members.
6. Remember that trust can be chipped away at
Trust isn’t always broken by one huge act of betrayal, such as an affair or a lie that makes you feel like you can’t trust anyone anymore. Sometimes broken trust is a thousand tiny lies. They pile up higher and higher, and eventually your partner leaves because he just can’t trust you anymore. It’s not one or two tiny lies that made him break up with you…it’s the weight of all the lies that caused your relationship to fail.
7. Be trustworthy in a million little ways
The other night, I was telling a friend a story about walking with my dogs in the forest. I couldn’t remember one of the details of what happened, so I just made something up so I wouldn’t have to stop and break the rhythm of my story. It was a very small detail, I can’t even remember what, but it may have been something about whether or not it was raining that day. My husband was in the kitchen, and I knew he’d probably remember the detail I forgot. Instead of asking him to help me out, I just charged on ahead.
Now, when I’m writing about how to build trust in a relationship, I am certain little things like that affect how our partners see us. My husband never said anything about the detail I fudged, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Did he think deliberately lied or exaggerated? I don’t know – I’ll have to ask him.
8. Be consistent in your actions and words
Building trust in a relationship isn’t just about how you treat him, how honest you are with him, or not cheating on him. Building trust is about who you are with others, and how much integrity you have.
What have I missed in these tips for building trust in a relationship? I welcome your thoughts below. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but you may find it helpful to share your experience.
Help Building Trust in a Relationship
In What Makes Love Last? How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal, John Gottman and Nan Silver share the mysteries of love and describes the results of Gottman’s famous “Love Lab.”
Gottman is a research psychologist and couples counselor; in this book he tackles questions such as:
- Where does love come from?
- Why does some love last, and why does some fade?
- How can we keep love alive – and how do we build trust in our relationships?
Based on laboratory findings, this book shows readers how to identify signs, behaviors, and attitudes that indicate a fraying relationship and provides strategies for repairing what may seem lost or broken.
May you find trust, peace, and connection in your relationship…and may trust not be easily broken.