Authentic Dating: 5 Ways to Build Trust

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.

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.”
    4. When you apologize, mean it and work toward change.
    5. 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.

Five Ways to Be More Engaging in Conversation and Relationships

5 Ways to Be More Engaging

By Stacy Ingraham, MSEd., LPCC-S

Imagine if you felt heard, important, and respected during most interactions. We do not often leave conversations feeling this way, because many of us aren’t very good at engaging others. When we engage someone, they feel like they matter, are heard, and appreciated. If you care about the person and especially if you want to grow a relationship (personal or professional), learning the skills of engagement is imperative.

  1. Be a really good listener. Listen for details, so that you can ask specific follow-up questions about what they share. If you are preparing a witty response, planning a grocery list, or consumed with worry about what the other person thinks about you, you are not being a good listener.
  2. Be curious. People who are interested, are interesting. A common mistake many of us make is talking too much about ourselves. This can come across as though you are trying to convince that person to like you. Instead, ask open ended questions, so it requires more than a “yes” or “no” response. And if you have been listening, you will be able to ask those follow-up questions.
  3. Is your anxiety getting in the way of being present, or really with someone? If so, you may be putting too much pressure on yourself to be liked and accepted. Take a few deep breaths and trust yourself. A little anxiety is natural and motivating. Too much can be debilitating – consider seeking counseling or coaching if you can relate.
  4. Speak non-verbally. Make eye contact, smile, have an open stance, lean in, nod…. We are always communicating.
  5. Show vulnerability. Giving someone a genuine compliment, accepting a compliment, sharing how you feel about something and asking for help are ways we can be more vulnerable. For instance, if you are enjoying the conversation, tell them. If their smile is warm and friendly, let them know.

These skills do not come naturally to many of us. If you want some help, consider the following:

-Get connected with a skilled coach or therapist whom you trust to provide feedback with support and compassion.

-Seek feedback from friends.

-Get out of your comfort zone and practice. Take small risks in your everyday life by striking up conversation, making eye contact, and noticing when your body language could be more open.

-Watch Amy Cuddy’s “Your Body Language Shapes Who you Are,” and Brenè Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability”

-Read Developing High Self-Esteem and Leadership From the Inside Out by Norman Shub, Gestalt as a Way of Life by Cyndy Sheldon