5 Ways to Build Trust in a Relationship

Do you struggle to trust that your partner has your best interest at heart, even if they’ve given you no reason to doubt? You’re not alone!

In both new and committed relationships, building trust takes work. Most of us have past experiences and insecurities that make us fearful of being vulnerable. This fear can cause us to build fortresses around our feelings to protect them from getting hurt.

But a healthy relationship requires trust, and trust requires vulnerability! This is the first of the 5 ways to build trust in a relationship.

build trust in a relationship, overcome insecurities, trust issues, vulnerability, healthy relationship advice
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1 – Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable, Gradually

Trust in a relationship takes time. You don’t need to share everything all at once, but if you want the relationship to progress and last, you need to start putting your trust in your partner little by little.

The walls you built from your trauma aren’t protecting you, they’re starving you from real connection.

Give your partner opportunities to honor your trust by allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Depending on where you’re at in your relationship, these opportunities can be small – like asking them to pick you up from work – or big – like sharing a past trauma. The more you do this, the more clearly you will be able to see your partner’s intentions.

Your partner isn’t perfect and will make mistakes. It’s more important to pay attention to their patterns. After you address an issue, do they keep breaking your trust in the same way, or does the behavior stop?

2 – Recognize What’s in Your Control

Trusting is scary. Remember that it’s your choice to trust someone, but it’s their choice to honor it or break it. If they break your trust, it’s NOT your fault.

In case no one told you, it’s not your job to make someone love you. You should be with someone who just does. 

When we feel insecure, it’s tempting to try to find ways to make someone want us. But it’s not fair to yourself or your partner to self-betray or manipulate to get them to stay. It’s healthier, and far better, to be with someone who chooses that on their own.

So, just to be clear…

What’s not in your control:

  • Your partner’s feelings
  • Your partner’s actions

What is in your control:

  • Your actions
  • Your boundaries
build trust in a relationship, overcome insecurities, trust issues, vulnerability, healthy relationship advice
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3 – Set Boundaries and Express Your Needs

Boundaries are imperative to building trust in a relationship. They create a safe space for vulnerability and help you respect your worth.

You have the right to feel safe before you are vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to ask for and create that safety before you open up.

When you set boundaries and express needs, it might also help to communicate past traumas with your partner to help them understand why you have difficulty trusting. We’ll talk more about past experiences and triggers in #4.

Some examples of boundaries/expressing needs are:

  • “If you ever cheated on me, I would end our relationship”
  • “I want to feel like we have each other’s best interest at heart. When you ____, I don’t feel that way”
  • “Before we have this conversation, I want to feel confident that you’ll validate my feelings. Can you promise me you will?” 
  • “It would make me feel more comfortable if you updated me when your schedule changes”

In the same way, show your partner you have their best interest at heart by honoring their trust, and allowing them to set boundaries and express their needs.

Be their safe person.

build trust in a relationship, overcome insecurities, trust issues, vulnerability, healthy relationship advice
Photo by Sharon Rosseels on Unsplash

4 – Work on Your Insecurities and Know Your Triggers

We need self-love to allow ourselves to be loved. When we don’t believe we deserve love, we sabotage our relationships by narrating them through a lens of insecurity and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Learn more about self-sabotage in my post, “3 Reasons Why We Self-Sabotage in Relationships”.

Try to narrate your relationship from the lens of self-worth. Assume they have your best interest at heart unless they have given you good reasons not to.

When anxiety and intrusive doubts arise, challenge them. Ask yourself why you’re feeling the way you do. 

Trust issues can be rooted in a fear of abandonment, insecurities, or past relationships with untrustworthy people.

Ask yourself, “Are there current red flags that warrant my mistrust, or did their behavior trigger an insecurity or something from my past?

Read my post, “How to Overcome Insecurities in a Relationship”, for more help working on insecurities!

If you want to learn more about coping with relationship anxiety, read my post “7 Steps to Deal with Anxiety in a Relationship”.

5 – Be Honest and Consistent

It’s much easier to break trust in a relationship than to build it. The hard truth is that building trust takes time and consistency from both partners.

This means you need to say what you mean and mean what you say. Be honest about your feelings, even if they’re negative.

Little white lies – even for the sake of sparing your partner’s feelings or avoiding a fight, are not okay.

Shoving unresolved conflict under the rug breeds resentment and mistrust. You don’t need to agree in the end, but you need to get to a point where you don’t feel resentment or contempt.

For more help on communication and conflict resolution skills, read my posts, “10 Ways to Have Good Communication in a Relationship” and “How to Communicate Better During Conflict Resolution”.

Unresolved conflicts and little white lies add up and run deep into the foundation of your relationship. You can’t build trust on a foundation like that.

Work on showing each other that you have the other’s best interest at heart, and over time, you will create a solid foundation of trust.