Written by Stacy Ingraham, MSEd., LPCC-S
Individual & Couples Gestalt Therapist
When most people create a list of “must haves” in a relationship partner, “trustworthy” is typically at the top. Important to note is that earning trust and trusting someone takes time. Here are a few ways trust is built in a relationship.
- If you want to start a relationship out on the right foot, be honest and open from the start. Building trust begins the moment you introduce yourself – online and in person.
- Put your heart out there, little by little. Each time we share with another person, we give them the opportunity to care about, support, and know us. Of course, this comes with the risk of getting hurt or being rejected. By testing how the other person responds or reacts to our vulnerabilities, we can learn whether they can be trusted with deeper, more intimate parts of ourselves. For more on vulnerability, check out Brené Brown’s TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability.
- Working through tough moments together. Lean into conflict. Do not avoid it! The purpose of conflict in relationships is to protect the closeness. While bringing up something difficult can be uncomfortable and anxiety provoking, it’s another opportunity to build trust. Sharing concerns is another way of communicating “I care enough about me, you, and our relationship to try to reconnect and strengthen our bond, instead of build resentment, feel irritated, and vent to other people about you.”
- When you apologize, mean it and work toward change.
- Stay true to your word. When you say you’re going to do something, follow through. If you say you’re going to pick him up at 6:00, arrive by 6:00. If you say you’re going to pick up milk on the way home, pick up the milk. If something changes, communicate this with your person as soon as possible. Trust erodes when we say we’ll do something, and we lack follow-through.
If you find that you struggle with any of these ideas, a therapist can help if you are open and honest. If you care about your relationship and a foundation of trust was not built or has been shaken, seek guidance from a qualified couple’s therapist.