When it comes to relationships, any expert will tell you, the common denominator in making it work is trust. Without a solid foundation in mutual trust between your partner and yourself, little else matters. To get the scoop on all things related to trust in a relationship, we’ve enlisted relationship expert and family therapist Alyson Jones. So how can you trust and be trusted in a relationship? From defining what trust means in a healthy relationship to outlining how to build the trust back after betrayal, we’re examining all angles of this key ingredient to ensure your happily ever after.
Definition of trust in a relationship
Trust between two people is all about the give and take. It also has everything to do with choices we make. Says Jones: “We need to choose each other, and in this choosing, we will need to be available and vulnerable to the other person; while holding space for them to be available and vulnerable with us.”
Importance of trust in a relationship
The benefits of embracing trust, according to Jones, are plenty. “Trust allows us to recharge, reenergize and pursue our goals. We feel empowered when we feel someone has our back.”
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How to recognize if there is – or isn’t – trust in your relationship
- Are you and your partner open and honest about your life?
- Are your partner’s stories consistent? Or do you frequently find gaps in what they share?
- Do your conversations feel natural and direct?
- Does your partner easily offer to introduce you to others in their life?
- Does your partner’s body language appear open and relaxed? Or do they turn away and avoid making eye contact?
- Are you both open with each other about technology? This does not mean you should go snooping on each other’s devices, but is trust established via an openness with one another’s computers and phones?
How to build trust in a relationship
In carefully taking those small – but significant – steps, Jones believes the trust will naturally grow. Ultimately, it’s all an exercise in reciprocal sharing and communication. Jones adds: “When we share information and resolve issues, we will deepen our trust and develop a stronger foundation for the relationship.”
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How to maintain trust in a relationship
The biggest takeaway, according to Jones, is this: “Being honest is important, but we need to remember that being honest does not mean being perfect with one another – it means being real!”
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Red flags for trust issues in a relationship
Among the red flags, one common factor, notes Jones, is drama: “Too much drama in the relationship is a sign of a trust issue. Suspicion and defensiveness are very hard on relationships.” Jones believes these issues are often a result of “past disappointments and attachment wounds.”
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How do you fix trust issues in a relationship?
According to Jones, communication is the key to healing those emotional wounds. “Discuss your personal values and then work together to build shared values that you both support – an emotional wound heals through acknowledgement, understanding and commitment.”
When to seek expert help for trust issues
As a final thought on seeking expert help, Jones adds: “The more we understand ourselves, the more equipped we are to be successful in our present relationships… Counselling really can provide you with a toolbox for relationships and life.”
Learning how to trust your partner
Jones suggests those looking to better trust their partner should “act in a way that encourages a trusting environment. Discuss boundaries and fears. Ask your partner questions and be ready to listen. Foster kindness with each other and take responsibility for yourself and your actions.”
Learning how to be a trustworthy partner
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How to build trust in a relationship after lying
Read on for more tips on rebuilding trust after infidelity.
Signs that loss of trust is beyond repair
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Trust exercises to do as a couple
- Share something personal to create a sense of trust in the relationship
- Practice forgiveness by sharing something you’ve done in the relationship that you feel bad for and ask for their forgiveness
- Make eye contact by looking at each other in the eyes for 1 – 2 minutes
- Do a question and answer round for several minutes without interrupting your partner, to allow them the space to answer freely at their turn
- Take turns telling each other three things you love about one another
It starts from within: how to trust yourself
Moreover, says Jones, trusting in yourself has a lot to do with letting go: “We are letting go of control. The idea that we can control anyone else is false; and there is no safety net that will assure us 100% that we are now safe in a relationship and will not get hurt. What this means is we can learn to trust ourselves.” Explains Jones: “We need to trust our ability to establish and keep boundaries, and trust that we will know if there is a bridge back even when we have been hurt.”
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