For some men, building trust in your relationships can be extremely difficult to do. A lot of men have been hurt at some point, perhaps by someone they loved and trusted. That might be your current or former spouse, a friend, or another family member. As a result of being hurt, a lot of men are not willing to allow themselves to become vulnerable in the future.
Just take a look at the newsstands and you will see news of celebrities cheating on each other, having arguments, and filing for divorce. When you think about it, all these messages are doing is showing people the negative side of a relationship. Why don’t they show the good side instead?
It is very possible to develop a deeply loving, caring, and trusting close relationship with someone. It takes some work, however, and what my dear friend Sergio Sedas, Ph.D. calls a high Open Vulnerability Index (“OVI”).
So, what is OVI, you may be asking? OVI relates to how comfortable a person feels letting this guard down –- you know that armor that we believe protects from harm in every relationship and conversation we have.
Whether you realize it or not, your OVI is always in play, whether it relates to you having a high, medium, or low level of OVI. When you have a high level of OVI, you are not worried about what other people think or say.
You can accept feedback as information that you can use to make adjustments and you are much more open, emotionally available, and creative. In other words, as my friend Dr. Sarah Sarkis says, “you are comfortable in your own skin and bones.”
On the other hand, when you have a low OVI, the opposite happens. You’re frequently afraid and defensive. You don’t trust others and you have your armor on, which prevents others from being able to get close to you. This armor prevents people from feeling what you feel and connecting with you n a very deep way. It also pushes people away that you actually want to attract.
How Can you Improve your OVI and Increase Trust?
One of the best ways to start improving your OVI and increasing the level of trust in your relationship, especially if you have been hurt by a past relationship, is by moving in gradient steps. What I mean by gradient steps is taking one small step after another.
While love and deep personal connections are something that all human beings want in our lives, rushing blindly into a relationship is not always healthy. This is true, even though I will be the first to admit that it can be very easy to find yourself swept away by someone. It might be their beauty or that you just love all the attention that you are suddenly getting that makes you feel like you are living on cloud nine.
If you find yourself attracted to someone strongly but you realize your OVI level is low, then you should take the time to understand the reason you’re attracted and unwilling to allow yourself to become a bit vulnerable. Is it because you are just lonely, and you are glad to have company?
Or, is there something about this person that stirs emotions in you that you have never experienced before? Maybe you find yourself being showered with gifts and trips. Could it be that you are more attracted to those things than the actual person?
In order to really improve your OVI and trust this new person in your life, you can take a few more small steps and find out a little bit more about them. This doesn’t involve snooping behind their backs.
Instead, it involves getting knows things about them like their values and having heart to heart talks to discover each other’s past, likes, and dislikes. If the person isn’t forthcoming, this could be a warning sign.
It is also important to keep your wide eyes open so you can truly see what is in front of you.
Hunches and intuition play a part in this. You don’t want to end up falling for someone who has no intention of entering into a serious relationship if that’s what you have in mind. Likewise, if you are not looking for a serious relationship, then you don’t want to mislead someone into thinking you do.
You should also keep in mind that some people do have a hard time openly sharing their feelings. If your partner doesn’t want to share certain things or doesn’t say those words you want to hear, don’t give up. Take a look at their actions instead of relying on their words. Quite often, you will find that actions do speak louder than words.
To improve your OVI and build trust, you also have to be willing to be open and honest as well. Trust really is a two-way street. Plus, it can take time to learn how to trust, especially if you have been hurt before.
So take your time, improve your OVI, and build trust over time.
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Photo Credit: @ann_van_ on Unsplash