Trust is a building block of any successful relationship. It allows each person to feel safe and comfortable. It also allows for healthy communication and boundaries. Although it can be difficult, building trust in a relationship is worth the effort. Establishing regular check-ins, communicating openly, and not making assumptions are ways to foster a sense of safety and connection.
What Is Trust?
Trust is a foundation piece in any kind of meaningful relationship or friendship. Children are born relying on and trusting their caregivers to keep them safe and help them grow. Trust allows one person to have the belief, faith, and confidence in another person’s ability to be reliable and dependable. Some people have trust issues as a result of trust being betrayed, whether that is from a childhood experience or a past friendship or relationship.
Why Is Trust in a Relationship Important?
Trust is the key to a healthy relationship, stronger connections, and more security. Security allows you to feel safe in a relationship. Having trust in your partner creates healthy boundaries. When you feel secure and positive, then you build a healthy and strong foundation together.
Negative Effects of Limited Trust In Relationships
Lack of trust leads to unhealthy and unstable dynamics in the relationship. If you do not have trust in your partner, then you may not feel secure.
Negative effects of limited trust in a relationship include:
- Poor boundaries
- Accusatory behaviors
- Lack of intimacy
- Feelings of betrayal
- Feelings of insecurity
- Feelings of abandonment
- Emotionally unfulfilled
- Frequent arguments
How to Build Trust With Your Partner in a Marriage or Relationship
Whether you are in a marriage or dating, trust is important. It is the foundation in the relationship that helps couples to feel safe and secure enough to communicate openly with their partner.1 There are many ways to build trust, including open communication, vulnerability, honesty, and empathy.
Here are 22 tips to build trust in relationships:
1. Have Open Communication
When you practice communicating with your partner, you become more open. If you’re more comfortable being open, you can become more vulnerable, stop overthinking, and limit resentment in the relationship. Trust can be built when your partner knows that you are willing to openly share intimate details.
2. Be Vulnerable & Show Your Feelings
Vulnerability can be scary, but it helps you to build trust by showing you can share your most sacred feelings. You can let your guard down and be yourself, which in turn will make your partner trust you enough to show their own feelings.
3. Learn Healthy Ways to Communicate
Ways to communicate include active listening, validating your partner, and recognizing how you react and respond. Couples can read relationship books and complete workbooks together as ways to strengthen their trust and communication.
4. Be Honest
It takes more work to lie than to honestly share your feelings. Even when it is tough, being honest lets your partner know that you value them. Trust grows when you feel secure that your partner is able to tell the truth in any situation.
5. Show Empathy
Showing empathy makes your partner feel heard and validated. If your partner thinks you do not have empathy, they will feel like they’re on their own. If you’re dating someone with anxiety or another mental health concern, showing that you’re listening and empathizing with what they’re saying is crucial.
6. Be Willing to Listen
By listening to your partner, you are showing them you understand. You demonstrate that you value them and respect them enough to take that time. When you don’t listen to your partner, they may feel dismissed or unappreciated.
7. Ask for Clarity if Needed
When you ask for clarity, you show your partner that you care about what they say. If you don’t ask for clarity, you are left to assume and this may lead you to think the worst. Clarity allows you to identify what your partner is feeling so you can change behaviors.
8. Don’t Make Assumptions
Assumptions create false narratives. When you create a false narrative, you feel removed from your relationship. If you dismiss your partner’s feelings and place your own thoughts on the situation through assumption, you miss an opportunity to build a deeper connection. Give your partner time to explain; then create the ending of the story together.
9. Take Time to Make Decisions
Taking your time to make decisions allows you to process and understand your feelings and behaviors. By slowing down your response, you may reduce harmful impulsive decisions. This can help build trust so your partner does not feel like you are not present in times of conflict.
10. Don’t Take Your Relationship For Granted
When you take your relationship for granted, you show your partner they do not matter. You may put friends before your partner when you think your partner will always be there. Focusing on your partner, noticing kind gestures, and even saying thank you can help build trust.
11. Show Gratitude
Telling your partner that you recognize something positive they said or did makes them feel respected. Showing gratitude in small ways throughout the day can help build trust through emotional connection. A simple gesture can go far and help build stability, too.
12. Prioritize Quality Time
Everyday life can get busy, but quality time shouldn’t be ignored. Create a special time in your day to stop and say hi or spend a few minutes together. In this way, you are letting your partner know that you will be there to connect no matter how busy you get.
13. Set Boundaries
Boundaries are rules and limits you set for yourself in your relationship. When you are aware of unhealthy and healthy boundaries, you’re more inclined to take accountability of your actions. When a couple sets boundaries, they are creating a comfortable and balanced environment where both people feel understood.
14. Respect Each Other
Respect shows your partner that you are willing to treat them how you want to be treated. We all enter relationships with expectations, standards, and qualities we want our partner to possess. Trust breaks if we do not express the same respect and standards to our partners.
15. Practice Trust Exercises
When couples take time to practice trust, they feel more connected. Through practice, couples can learn to build trust by becoming more open and vulnerable. Practicing trust exercises together shows your partner you want to put in the effort.
Here are examples of trust exercises:
- Have intimate conversations
- Give physical touch
- Have a question and answer time
- Share gratitude and give compliments
16. Practice Structured Conversations
Structured conversations include using “I” statements, reflections, and active listening. By practicing having more structured conversations, you become more self-aware of how you communicate. Being more aware of your body language and tone can help you to reduce conflict and have a healthier pattern of conversations.
17. Have Regular Check-Ins
Weekly check-ins help couples learn more about who they are and what they need. They allow your partner to hear what you need in an honest way. Create date nights each week to add excitement and something to look forward to. This can help build trust when you know that you have a partner who is willing to put in the effort.
18. Take Accountability for Your Actions
Being accountable for your actions shows maturity. It may not feel easy to take accountability, as it can make you feel judged. But when you take accountability, you show your partner that you can admit to wrongdoing and be self-aware. Knowing your partner is able to share those hard moments with you builds trust.
19. Be Willing to Say Sorry
Saying sorry is so important; it can make your partner feel confident that you understand how they feel. When you apologize, you are telling them that you own your actions and acknowledge the situation. Trust is built when your partner feels you are aware of changes needed to improve the relationship.
20. Try Not to Judge Your Partner
Be cognizant of your behaviors and how you speak to your partner. If they feel judged, they may not feel comfortable opening up. By letting your partner know you’re here to listen without judgment, they will begin to feel safe.
21. Be Willing to Forgive
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you agree with their actions; instead it provides a sense of acceptance. If you want to forgive and move forward with your partner, this helps to build trust by letting your partner know you choose to work on the relationship together.
22. Follow Through & Be Consistent
Some of us get so caught up in the actions of others that we forget to stay consistent with our intentions. Working on your relationship by following through with positive behaviors can help keep you accountable. When you put in the effort to stay consistent, you show your partner you are meeting them halfway.
How to Rebuild Trust in a Relationship After Infidelity
It can be hard to rebuild trust in a relationship after infidelity, but it is possible. Rebuilding trust takes intention and understanding of what the infidelity meant for the relationship. It involves taking ownership and accountability and finding ways to reconnect and reform the foundational pieces of the relationship.
Infidelity can turn the relationship upside down and it can be challenging to know how to start. Processing your feelings and creating space for these feelings in the relationship is a good way to begin. Working with a therapist through couples counseling after infidelity is a great way to find a framework for rebuilding trust as well.
How to Trust Yourself
Trusting yourself can also be hard to do, as you come with your own experiences and biases now that shape and impact your actions. Trusting yourself can take time, and it is possible that you do trust yourself however you don’t believe it. It is a complex feeling when you are trying to figure out if your actions are genuine or are based on emotions that are untrue. Journaling can help you learn how you feel and understand and process your emotions. In this way, you can figure out how much these feelings resonate and how much you can trust them.
How Therapy Can Help Build Trust In a Relationship
Marriage and couples counseling is noted as an essential intervention that works for a diverse range of individual concerns and demographics.2 Therapy can help restore communication and rebuild the couple’s trust and connection. A therapist will allow the couple to hear each side of the story in an open, nonjudgmental space.
Types of Couples Therapy
Marital therapy and cognitive-behavioral marital therapy are two effective methods for couples. Cognitive behavioral marital therapy reduces negative behavioral interactions while increasing mutual emotional support.3 Cognitive behavioral therapies help couples to improve their interaction, using methods like problem-solving and communication.4 In general, behaviorally based couples therapy is helpful for relationship distress.5
Cost of Couples Therapy
The price of couples therapy may vary depending on the therapist’s qualifications and experience, your goals, time, location, and follow up sessions.6 Prices may range from $75-$250 per session.7
How to Find a Couples Therapist
Choosing a marriage counselor can feel overwhelming. A great place to start your search is an online therapist directory. You might also consider asking trusted friends or family members for recommendations. Remember, couples who invest time in establishing trust will start believing in their relationship.
Final Thoughts On Building Trust in Relationships
Building trust in relationships is hard; however, it’s worth the effort in the long run.8 By working together as a couple, you can begin to gain a new level of trust and connection with your partner. When you are mindful of your behaviors in your relationship, you will feel the positive difference.