Building trust in relationships

Trust, as we know, is a crucial factor in any relationship. Many relationships have broken up over trust issues. Once violated, trust is very difficult to repair and rebuild, so it has to be guarded carefully and constantly nurtured. It can be compared to a plant that needs the right soil, water and temperature to flourish and attain full bloom. So too, trust requires the right conditions and environment to sustain a relationship through highs and lows.

If partners trust each other in a relationship, there is no guarantee that it will continue to stay that way. You can never trust enough, nor can you take it for granted. You have to constantly build on it.

What are the barriers to building trust in a relationship?

1. Desire to control

When one partner or the other seeks to control the relationship and wants to achieve the upper hand, it is very difficult to meet on equal ground and establish trust. If you are not happy in a relationship and constantly seek to change your partner and dictate terms, it is not an environment conducive to building trust. Your partner will withdraw and alienate himself/herself from you.

2. Dishonesty

If you are always trying to hide things from your partner, or lie by omission, or only tell him/her what you think he/she needs to hear, you are not just being dishonest with your partner but you are not being true to yourself either. Remember that if you’re doing something wrong that you can’t talk about to your partner, it’s not about hiding it from your partner but whether you can live with it. Whatever you do, have the courage of your convictions and there will never be the need to be dishonest.

3. Self-centeredness

When we focus only on our needs and ourselves, we tend to do things that don’t help the relationship and will probably cause a rift in it. If you have selfish motives, it erodes the trust that your partner has placed in you and causes a loss of faith. This in turn hampers the growth of the relationship and causes it to stagnate.

In order to build trust in a relationship we have to overcome these barriers and ensure they don’t act as stumbling blocks. In addition, it is important to work on those factors that enhance trust and cement it so that it acts as a cohesive force in a relationship.

4. Be open

It is vital in a relationship to be as open and honest as possible. Sometimes couples lie to each other on the pretext that the truth will hurt their partner. That is something they should think about when they are indulging in the dishonest act, not at the time of disclosure. If you think twice about what you’re doing and how it will hurt your partner, if you really care for him/her, you won’t do it. If you’re constantly hiding things and not being sincere, it stunts the relationship and inhibits trust.

5. Communication

Communication forms the core - an integral part of building trust and sustaining a relationship. Communication does not involve one person doing all the talking – that too only surface talk about fashion trends and gossip. Communicating effectively involves both partners contributing their fair share to the conversation and listening when the other talks. It involves laying your cards on the table and telling it like it is, talking about your deeper emotions and feelings. It means being straightforward about your needs and expectations.

6. Forgiveness

Building trust in a relationship also involves being able to forgive your partner for the hurt he may have caused you in the past. If you can’t do that and insist on clinging to petty problems or keep raking up old issues, the relationship will die a natural death. Or one or both of you is going to be extremely unhappy. If you decide to continue in a relationship despite the hurt your partner may have inflicted on you in the past and would like to work on rebuilding the trust, you have to be willing to wipe the slate clean and start over.

7. Empathize

When problems come up or difficult situations arise, as they are bound to, it is important to show concern for your partner’s feelings and be sensitive to their needs. Even if you didn’t agree with the course of action and he didn’t take your advice, support him in his time of despair. If you understand his deepest desires and identify with his interests, he is more inclined to trust you with his feelings. If you throw them back in his face, ridicule him or rub it in when he’s stumbled and fallen, he will not be inclined to trust you.

8. Maintain positive feelings

If your partner has never given you reason to doubt him, then don’t. What’s that line about someone not being guilty unless proven otherwise? If you’re always suspicious and doubting his motives, jealous and quick to jump to conclusions (often the wrong ones), it will be very difficult to build trust. Treat your partner just the way you would want to be treated – with love and respect.

Building trust in a relationship doesn’t come with a snap of the fingers. It takes hard work and commitment, but once you have it and work to keep it alive, you will reap the fruits of it.