Building trust in a relationship: the 5 steps to a stronger bond
For EliteSingles psychologist, Salama Marine, trust in a relationship starts with honesty and ends in security. To help our members build bonds that are as strong as possible, she taught us the five steps that make a good relationship great.
Step one: Honesty starts with you
We’ve all heard how important it is to be honest with your partner. Yet, with research showing that couples tend to lie to each other once in every 3-10 exchanges, 1 it’s clear that not everyone practises what they preach. Nonetheless, if you are going to have any chance of having trust in a relationship, honesty is important.
And this means that you have to start by being honest with yourself. After all, if you’re not clear about what you want from a partner, then how can they help you meet your goals? To build a loving, trusting relationship, you therefore need to start by thinking about the important things – marriage, children, the future – and then find a partner who wants to share that journey.
Salama’s tip: ‘’Knowing yourself and what you want is the first step towards building trust with your partner. If you are both truthful about what you desire from the relationship you will be able to trust one another whole heartedly.’’
Step two: Show, don’t just tell.
As you settle into the rhythm of a relationship, it can become all too easy to make certain phrases and words routine – delivering them and receiving them by rote. This especially applies to phrases like ‘I love you’ – it’s oh-so-special the first few times but it can become something that is said almost automatically.
To emphasize the fact that you really do mean what your say – and, therefore, to emphasize that your partner can trust your words – it helps to back up loving words with loving actions. Surprise them with a romantic meal; do their part of the chores for them; rub their shoulders after a long day at work. Let them know, truly, that they are cherished.
Salama’s tip: ‘’Show your partner that you love them with romantic gestures and kind acts, not just with words. And, if saying ‘I love you’ is becoming more of a habit, it might help to break out of your daily routine – spontaneity can be a great way to show your partner you love them.’’
Step three: Reveal your vulnerable side
Many people mistakenly think that being completely honest with your partner involves telling it like it is; letting them know exactly what you think of them. While this can be done constructively, all too often it can just end up sounding like criticism: not the ideal way to build trust in a relationship!
Instead, try to be honest about your feelings rather than your thoughts. Letting your partner know why you are reacting to something (rather than just reacting) is a healthier way to approach disagreements. Indeed, if you’re willing to show vulnerability it will be far easier for the two of you to reach a solution that pleases you both.
Salama’s tip: ‘’If [for instance] you feel like you’re not seeing your partner enough because of their work commitments, instead of accusing them of caring more about their work than you, be truly honest and admit the reason you’re upset is simply because you miss them. Don’t be afraid of showing your vulnerable side.’’
Step four: Accept that you won’t always be right
Of course, the other side of that coin is this: if you expect your partner to take your honest feelings and issues into account, you have to be prepared to do the same for them. If a relationship is to flourish, everyone involved needs to listen as much as they talk.
While it can be difficult to listen to criticism without feeling defensive, if your partner is showing you their vulnerable side remember that that is an action which deserves respect. Listen to them, take on board their suggestions and see if you can find a way through. You’re on the same side after all.
Salama’s tip: The relationship will not work if communication is one sided – in order to build trust in a relationship you must be able to be truly honest with one another [including] criticizing when necessary. The basis of a healthy relationship stems from the freedom to express your feelings to your partner without fear of the reaction.
Step five: Keep your independence and your closeness
In those first giddy days of a relationship it is tempting to spend every minute of the day by your beloved’s side. However, that is not a practical scenario in the long term. And, what’s more, your relationship may even benefit from time spent doing your own thing.
Indeed, couples who have the security to maintain their independence are setting themselves up nicely for the long-term. When you happily see your partner off for activities without you, not only does it say lot about trust in your relationship, chances are it will add some excitement. After all, when you haven't been joined at the hip all day, you'll have much better stories at the end of it!
Salama’s tip: Building a truly strong relationship requires independence. Having separate friends, for example, helps to maintain an equal balance between you, so that one partner is not more reliant on the other. If you can trust your partner and allow them to flourish outside of the relationship, you will flourish as a pair too.
When it comes to relationships, trust is key. If you want that trust to last, make sure to build it from strong materials – like honesty, loving communication and security.
If you’re ready to starting building your own lasting relationship then start in the right place – join EliteSingles today.