Experiencing breeches that cause trust problems in your relationship is pretty common. Trust issues can present as a lack of confidence in your partner and/or their decisions, or assuming someone has betrayed your trust even if they have no reason to. Either partner may have experienced a breach of trust in previous relationships or have maybe been shown on other occasions that they must be careful with whom they give their trust to, such as conflict with parents or other family members, difficult friendships, etc. Trust is crucial between you and your partner as it can help you feel safe in your relationship, it can help you each feel able to be vulnerable with one another, and it can also help minimize conflict within the relationship.
If you feel that you and your partner are struggling with issues of trust in your relationship, here are some tips to help you navigate these issues:
Foster Open and Honest Communication
Being able to have open and honest conversations with your partner can begin to build (or rebuild) trust in your relationship. Establishing a safe space for communication is crucial. Encourage your partner to express their feelings and concerns, and make sure that you do the same. Showing each other that you are wanting to understand the issues at hand can create vulnerability that nurtures future open communication.
You’ve probably heard of active listening from a work training or something like it. But it also helps in your relationship, too, to truly understand your partner’s perspective. After you give them time to speak while listening intently, repeat back what you’ve heard to ensure clarity and to show that you are engaged in the conversation. Showing your ability to listen carefully and understand the other person can mitigate conflict and help your partner feel heard and valued.
Whether you like it or not, you’re a product of your upbringing and all your life experiences so far. Take time to reflect on yourself and understand your own insecurities or past experiences that might be contributing to trust issues within the relationship. Improving self-awareness by giving serious thought to your behaviors, thoughts, attitudes, motivations, and desires can be a powerful tool for personal growth. It can also help to determine areas or triggers of emotional pain, which you can then discuss in your open and honest communication with your partner.
Clearly define your expectations and boundaries in the relationship. Discuss what is important to each of you in the relationship and identify standards of the relationship that are mutually agreeable that can help build a foundation of trust.
Goal Setting and Consistency
Setting realistic and achievable goals for building or rebuilding trust can be done by breaking down larger goals into smaller, more manageable steps. Consistency builds trust over time, and your partner’s reliability on your behavior can help alleviate concerns. When you are consistent with your thoughts and actions, your partner can feel at ease in their ability to put their trust in you.
Give it Time
Recognize that rebuilding trust is a process that takes time. Patience from you and your partner is essential to avoid expecting immediate results. Building new habits like open and honest communication will require persistence and understanding from each other, as it may not feel natural at first. Allow for each other to navigate the discomfort in a way that feels best and practice active listening in the process.
Apologize and Make Amends
If you’ve broken trust, apologize sincerely and take tangible steps to make amends. Demonstrating a commitment to change is crucial for rebuilding trust. Ask your partner what they need to begin to feel more comfortable after the event and acknowledge that their forgiveness may take time.
Along with having open and honest communication in the relationship, it is also ideal to increase transparency in your actions and conversations with your partner. Share information with your partner willingly and be open about your thoughts and feelings. Avoid keeping secrets or leaving out details that could contribute to further mistrust in the relationship
Create Positive Experiences
Focus on creating positive experiences together. Shared positive experiences can help create new, positive associations in the relationship. Setting up enjoyable activities or date nights together and spending intentional time together can help to new excitement in the relationship.
Forgiveness is a critical aspect of rebuilding trust. Both partners need to be willing to forgive and move forward. Holding onto resentment can hinder the process. Accept repair attempts, which are statement or actions intended to diffuse negativity and keep a conflict from escalating out of control. After a partner sincerely apologizes, acknowledge and accept the apology discuss what the relationship could look like moving forward.
Learn from the Past
Use past mistakes as learning opportunities. Understand the root causes of the trust issues and work together to prevent similar issues from arising in the future. Be honest with yourself about the course of the past mistake and what could be done to prevent it from happening again.
Acknowledge and celebrate the progress you make together. Recognizing positive changes can reinforce the efforts you’re both putting into rebuilding trust. This can strengthen the bond between you and your partner and encourage more open and honest conversation throughout the relationship.
Counseling or Therapy
Consider couples counseling or therapy. A professional can provide guidance, help both partners express themselves, and offer tools for rebuilding trust. A therapist can also help to identify underlying causes or reasons for the lack of trust that a partner might not be conscious of in the moment.
Trust is a fundamental aspect of a healthy relationship and both partners need to actively contribute to its maintenance. It’s important to be patient, empathetic, and committed to the process of building or rebuilding trust. By following these steps, the process of building trust can be incredibly rewarding for the future of your relationship.