6 Ways You Can Build & Maintain Trust in a Relationship

By Tatenda

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Last Updated: October 25, 2022

“Love cannot live where there is no trust.” – Edith Hamilton 

The importance of trust in all types of relationships can not be overemphasized, yet most of us have been betrayed by the people we trusted at least once in our lives. As a result, we tend to dwell on how we can effectively handle relationships once trust has been broken. 

Oftentimes we act as though the moment we meet someone, we start to trust them. We forget that trust is built, and if we do some reflection, we might realize that we don’t even know how to build trust.  

This article explores some of the fundamentals which are essential in building and maintaining trust in relationships. 

Here, the term ‘relationship’ is not referring to a romantic relationship.

It is used as an umbrella term for all types of relationships, including:

  • romantic ones
  • friendships
  • parent-child relationships

Keep this in mind when you come across the terms ‘relationships’ and ‘partner.’ 

I hope this article helps you develop trust in your new relationships and in those where trust had been broken. 

 

 

6 Strategies to Build & Maintain Trust in Relationships

1. Talk about it.

Sometimes we have moments where we feel like we are unable to trust our partners.

It could be because they are coming home late, spending so much time on the phone, or just our gut feeling. If you ignore that feeling, it continues building, and you resent your partner more every day. 

Rather, open up and talk about these concerns. Let them know how their behavior is affecting you and give them a platform to explain themselves. 

 

2. Be honest.

In relation to the above point, having a conversation with your partner is useless if both of you are not honest. When having such an important (or any) conversation, there is a need for both of you to be honest with both how you feel and the facts of events. 

When you know that your partner is always honest, it is easier to believe everything they tell you and those feelings of mistrust can be effectively dealt with. 

 

3. Be non-judgmental. 

If you expect your partner to be honest, you need to create an environment where they can be honest without being judged. Have an open mind and be ready to accept anything and everything that your partner tells you. 

Sometimes it might not be what you want to hear, but it will be the truth that you have to accept.  

 

4. Have firm boundaries.

It is essential for both parties to set and communicate their boundaries.

Both people also have to actively work towards respecting those boundaries. If your partner needs some alone time every Sunday afternoon, let them have that, and do not overstep that boundary.

Boundaries allow everyone involved to be comfortable in the relationship knowing that their partner recognizes and respects the boundaries they have in place. 

 

5. Keep your promises.

If promises are constantly broken, it is difficult to build and maintain trust. Imagine if when you were young, your mom kept telling you that you will go to Disney Land the next month and never actually taking you there.

The first few times you get excited because you trust her, but if she continues not keeping that promise, you start hurting and not believing her. Even if she tells you that she will bring ice cream from the store, you would not necessarily believe her.  

The same is also applicable to relationships. If you constantly fail to live up to your word, you give your partner a reason not to trust you. This will make it hard for them to believe you even when you say the truth. 

 

6. Take responsibility.

Sometimes we mess up.

Once we have done so, we need to be able to acknowledge and take ownership of our mistakes and then ask for our partner’s forgiveness. 

Many of us find this difficult to do, and we are quick to point fingers at people or circumstances that drove us to make the mistake. We never acknowledge that we were wrong and try to convince our partners that if circumstances had been different, we wouldn’t have made the mistakes we made. 

 

 

What if I Have Trust Issues? 

Depending on how we were raised, we all have different attachment styles which influence our ability to trust others.

Some people have ‘trust issues’, which are defined as difficulties in trusting others. 

Sadly, we can’t change the past, but we can change the future. The first step would be for you to understand why you have these issues and then work towards trusting yourself. This will make it easier for you to trust others. 

Related article: Do You Have a Partner With Trust Issues? 6 Ways to Support, Not Fix Them

Being vulnerable can be scary, but it is essential when building and maintaining trust in relationships. Sometimes we have to put our defense mechanisms aside and rationally deal with conflicts and concerns as they arise. 

Trust is an irreplaceable element of relationships that can not be compromised on. Both parties have to effectively work towards ensuring that there is trust in the relationship. 

Photo by Trung Nguyen

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3 comments on “6 Ways You Can Build & Maintain Trust in a Relationship”

  1. The last line in Strategy #6 doesn't make sense to me and has me confused. Should it actually read: We 'should always' acknowledge that we were wrong, when we are wrong, and 'never' try to convince our partners that if circumstances had been different, we wouldn’t have made the mistakes we made.

  2. I think the first part of the strategy guides or directs us in that manner of What we should do. There's a reason why it's worded this way. My guess is to ensure that this enters our minds first and the second part is to make us aware of what we or most people commonly do. When emotions are running high and we have done wrong, it's difficult to fully take accountability without justifying why we acted that way. It hurts to be regarded as the "bad one" so we try to justify why we acted incorrectly i.e. if this didn't happen or if you didn't do so and so...I would not have acted, said or had to resort to such and such.

    I think that's where we also have to separate the negative behaviour/hurtful action from the view of self. This is for both ourselves and for the other person...it's the act or behaviour that's "bad" not "I" or the person. It's not easy to remember in all situations but once we remind ourselves that our ACTIONS (regardless of whether it was done with 'good' intentions or out of hurt/pain) hurt our loved ones, it's a little easier to take accountability and be less defensive because I am not a bad person who always wants to intentionally hurt those I love, my actions or behaviour was wrong and that is not a reflection on calibre of human being I am, I just made the wrong decision or showed poor judgement and I am sorry for the pain caused, I will work on it

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