Many people say trust takes years to build and seconds to break — and it’s true. Building trust takes time and dedication, especially if you’ve gotten hurt in the past. It’s a pivotal component of any healthy relationship, but where do you begin? Is it possible to reestablish trust if you’ve gotten hurt in the past?
The answer is yes! With commitment and determination, you can create and reinforce it for years to come. Keep reading to learn nine ways to build trust between you and your partner — regardless of your history.
At the Start of a Relationship
Starting a new relationship is one of the most exciting experiences in your life. You get butterflies when they’re near and you love spending time together. It’s natural to want the relationship to grow and strengthen so you can enjoy their company for a long while — maybe even a lifetime.
Think of it as a journey. It doesn’t appear overnight — it takes time and dedication. Here are four ways to develop trust in a new relationship.
1. Be Genuine
Sincerity goes a long way in a relationship. If you say something, mean it! Stand by your commitments and be a genuine partner in the relationship. How can your significant other (SO) learn to trust you if you lie or deceive?
It’s natural to want your crush to like you, but the only way to establish love is through authenticity. They have to know the real you in order to create that special bond. As challenging as it may feel, be honest in the relationship and with yourself.
2. Show Vulnerability
Showing vulnerability can feel scary because you’re opening yourself up to the potential to get hurt. However, by taking this risk, you also unlock the chance for support, love and trust from a partner.
When someone is vulnerable, it demonstrates a level of trust that already exists in the relationship. You are saying you have faith they won’t hurt you when you share this piece of yourself. There are many ways to show this confidence in your SO.
Some people choose to demonstrate sexual vulnerability, while others open up about sensitive topics and feelings. Facing your fears or taking a risk together will help to bring you closer and strengthen your relationship. Remember that it’s okay to take things slowly — it’s vital you both feel comfortable making these steps.
3. Demonstrate Respect
Respect is a two-way street. If you can’t respect your partner, it will be difficult for them to respect you. While you should always be polite, you should give respect to those who deserve it. Look for signs your partner is someone who’s respectable. Do they show kindness? Are they willing to help others and strive to be a better person?
Each person’s definition is different, so discover what the word means to you and choose a partner you respect. If you don’t think they’re respectable, how can you build a trusting relationship together?
4. Let Go of Baggage
Baggage is a natural part of life — it’s what you choose to do with it that matters. When you experience something negative, an echo of the encounter can haunt you. For instance, if you’ve been hurt or betrayed by an ex, you may subconsciously feel that future partners will do the same.
The first step is recognizing what baggage you’re carrying. Only then can you begin working through it. While your SO should be supportive, it’s your responsibility to seek help as you need it to put these traumas to rest.
You want to move forward with a clean slate, and building trust will feel much easier once you’ve let go of the past.
After Experiencing Betrayal
Betrayal can destroy trust in a relationship. Whether it was cheating, lying, addiction or abuse, it’s crucial that you realize reestablishing trust takes time. Examine the connection — do you believe it’s worth salvaging? If you’re ready to start rebuilding what was damaged, here are five ways to begin.
1. Analyze the Situation
If you’ve been betrayed, it can be challenging to think clearly. Your emotions cloud your judgment and make it difficult for you to focus on how to move forward.
Before you can begin reestablishing trust, you should analyze the situation itself. What could have led to the problem at hand? Getting to the root of the issue will help ensure it doesn’t continue.
Likewise, if you were the betrayer, what led you to that moment? Were you unhappy or trying to provoke a reaction? Determining what led to your decisions can help to stop you from repeating the same mistakes.
The explanation for the action plays no role in the apology, but it’s useful for building a new foundation for the relationship. You should not justify the situation, but merely understand where it could have stemmed from, so that you can move forward together.
2. Communicate How You Feel
Communication is the key to any relationship. To move forward in the relationship, you should strive to communicate frequently and with honesty. If face-to-face conversations are challenging, consider writing a letter or calling them on the phone.
Remember that your non-verbal actions are also a sign of communication. Try and ensure your non-verbal cues match what you’ve stated verbally. It’s unfair to send mixed signals when attempting to rebuild a relationship.
3. Show Forgiveness
When you choose to forgive, you take charge of your feelings and intentionally change your attitude relating to a specific situation or person. Some problems, like addiction, can feel out of your control. Choosing to forgive and move forward is something you can control.
Lead by example by being reliable and delivering on your promises. If you’ve decided to forgive, then demonstrate that decision verbally and non-verbally. Keep in mind that forgiveness is not the same as forgetting, nor is it the same as trusting. If anything, it is the first step on a long path to rebuilding what was lost.
4. Leave the Past Behind
To move forward, you must be willing to leave the past behind. This means keeping the betrayal out of discussions or arguments. You wipe the slate clean when you decide to give someone another chance and begin working to re-establish trust.
If you feel it’s impossible to let go of what happened, perhaps it’s best for you both to move on with a fresh start. Some damage is too deep to repair in a relationship. If this is the case, use what you’ve learned as a lesson for future relationships.
5. Be Patient
Be patient with yourself and your partner. These things take time and energy to rebuild. Remain calm if mistrust flares up and try to understand one another’s point of view. Take small steps together as you work through the situation.
It isn’t always helpful to rush back into things as if nothing occurred. If your partner betrayed you, it’s natural to feel wary and look for red flags. Keeping your eyes open will help protect you from future harm. However, it is important to give them the benefit of the doubt on occasion rather than always assuming the worst.
Trust Takes Time
With these nine steps, you can build trust between you and your partner. Strive for consistency in the relationship, because being trustworthy means being reliable and steadfast.
And if you are really facing difficulty establishing trust, consider attending couples counseling. A licensed therapist can guide the conversation in a healthy, productive and intentional way.
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