How to Build Trust in a Relationship: 15 Tips

Relationship Rules
09 Aug 2023
12 min read
15 Ways to Build Trust in a Relationship

Trust is one of the most vital pieces in a healthy relationship tower. However, even people in stable and healthy relationships tend to develop trust issues over time, ranging from major cheating hurt to minor miscommunication cases. That’s why ensuring long-lasting trust in a relationship is such a hard task for almost everyone.

Whether you choose to seek professional help, ask family members for advice, or independently take the steps needed to communicate effectively, trust requires hard work from both partners. In this article, we’ll look at how you can develop a strong foundation of trust from the very beginning of your relationship.

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Why Trust is So Important in a Healthy Relationship

Trust is one of the key pieces of successful relationships. It helps to develop emotional intimacy, ensures open communication, and allows you to have more faith in your romantic relationships. When you build trust with someone, you feel a more secure, deeper connection with them. This in turn makes you both feel safe in your partnership.

Related reading: Setting Relationship Rules For a Healthy Partnership

How lack of trust breaks a healthy relationship

6 Effects of Having Poor Trust in a Relationship

Poor trust in a relationship can have lasting negative effects on both you and your partner. Here are just a few examples of what a lack of trust-building can cause over time:

  1. Lack of boundaries: Without mutual trust in a relationship, you don’t have healthy communication and suffer from insecurity and mental health issues. Both of you may not realize fully or disrespect the boundaries of each other.
  2. Paranoia: When there is no trust in relationships, you don’t feel secure. This can become so extreme that you may feel as if your partner is keeping secrets from you, or that there is a malicious pattern behind even the most mundane and innocent tasks that they take on.
  3. Insecurity: When you don’t trust those you have a relationship with, it may make you feel unsafe. For example, you may feel that the people you have relationships with don’t value you the same way you value them.
  4. Abandonment issues: When you don’t have a secure relationship, you may feel paranoid that your partner is about to leave you at any time. These negative feelings can make it difficult to share your life with others.
  5. Frequent arguments: When you don’t trust the person you have a relationship with, frequent fights and arguments become your routine. They deepen the lack of trust and create a lot of tension. In the end, you argue even more often over almost everything.
  6. Lack of intimacy: When you don’t trust the person you have a relationship with, it makes you feel unsafe. As a result, you may have difficulty being intimate with your partner.

As you can see, strong trust is a building block in lasting and happy relationships. On the contrary, violated trust in a relationship leads to developing feelings of paranoia, fear of abandonment, lack of intimacy, and more frequent arguments with one another.

What to do to build trust in a relationship

15 Things You Should Do to Establish Trust in Your Relationship

Now that it’s understandable why building trust in a relationship is important let’s clarify what exactly you do to improve trust in your relationships.

1. Keep Lines of Communication Open

Attempting to communicate openly is important. But so is actively allowing others to communicate with you. If you are interested in developing trust in your relationship, you should ensure that both of you can reach each other.

Whether you have been in a long-term relationship or you just started dating, trust begins with how you communicate with each other. The better your communication is, the easier it will be to gain mutual respect and rebuild trust when it is broken.

Related reading: 14 Green Flags in a Guy You Date

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Being Vulnerable

Your ability to trust your partner depends on how you handle your own feelings. Even if you are with a trustworthy partner, you may not feel safe expressing your own emotions.

Being able to show vulnerabilities, or things you’re not fully comfortable with you, is a good sign that you feel secure in a relationship.

If you are unsure whether your partner can show their vulnerable side to you, watch their feelings. See how they react to things and see if they are comfortable showing you something relatively unattractive to you. If they are, you shouldn’t have to worry about showing yours. You are both capable of finding beauty in your flaws.

3. Not Just Hear But Listen Actively

Many people tend to confuse actual listening with hearing. However, listening is vital for building trust because it shows how willing each person is to take responsibility for themselves. That’s why it’s vital to master this skill.

Listening is not just hearing what the other person is saying, it’s acting upon it. Your partner may have an issue with leaving the milk out. You tell them they left it out, and ask them to put it away. 

Hearing and listening lead to different ways of interaction. If your partner has acknowledged they left the milk out but did nothing to actually fix the issue, they just heard you. They didn’t listen when asked to act upon it. But if your partner got up immediately and put the milk away, they listened. They may not verbally acknowledge the issue but still did what they had to do to fix it.

4. Be Empathetic and Sympathetic

When you build trust in a relationship, take the time needed to understand the feelings of your partner. As you build a trusting relationship with each other, it’s important to put yourself in their shoes.

Empathy and sympathy help you and your partner with fixing poor communication issues, allow you to have more personal growth, and let you both have more honest communication. That’s why it’s so important.

5. Be Honest with Your Partner

Unless it is something along the lines of a surprise party, there is no reason to keep secrets or hide things from your partner. It’s not working for establishing trust and making your partner feel confident about your relationship.

Remember that a big part of open communication is being honest with each other. When you constantly hide secrets from each other, it can create serious trust issues in your relationship. You don’t need to cause extra relationship problems with your silence. In the long run, it’s always better to speak your truth.

Related reading: Psychology Behind Cheating and Lying

6. Don’t Make Assumptions

When you want to build trust in a relationship, making assumptions is one of the worst things for that. Even if they are good, it is a sign that you are already breaking trust in relationships and life in general

When you work to build trust, it’s much better to take everything at face value. Remember that rumors and gossip can get twisted. If enough people spread vulnerable information about your beloved person, even their routine meetings can easily turn into a nightmare. You won’t make your partner trust you and feel comfortable around you this way.

7. Ask Them to Clarify Everything

Part of making assumptions is not asking for clarification on things. If information can easily be confused, ask them a few questions to ensure you both have the same idea. If you arrange a meeting, don’t cause extra trust issues but clarify all the details:

  • What time?
  • What entrance or exit?
  • How long will it be?

By asking these questions, you develop a more well-thought-out plan with your partner. This, in turn, makes all your dealings easier to handle and helps to build trust between you two. Also, by clarifying things, you avoid fights and hurt feelings that come from assuming the worst of each other.

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8. Set Boundaries

Whether you are building or rebuilding trust in a relationship, relationship experts agree that setting healthy boundaries is one of the most important steps. As you put the boundaries in place and show respect for them, you ensure trust in a relationship and respect the mental health of each other.

Setting healthy boundaries is a never-ending process, so be ready to master this skill as long as your relationship lasts.

Related reading: A Guide on How to Be a Better Boyfriend
How to Be a Good Girlfriend: Master the Skill

9. Prioritize Spending Time Together

Is this relationship important to both of you? If so, one of the best trust-building activities is spending quality time with each other.

Spending time together helps to develop a strong relationship and provides you with more opportunities to practice effective communication.

Also, quality time lets you find things in common. In turn, this practice helps to create a stronger bond between the two of you.

10. Don’t Be Afraid of Apologizing

People are weird. We understand that we aren’t perfect and do things wrong from time. Still, we frequently act as if we did nothing wrong and don’t realize that deep inside we acknowledge ourselves as guilty.

You’ll be surprised how many people refuse to admit any wrongdoing – and how many people suffer in the relationship because of that!

That’s why being able to apologize genuinely is a foundational principle of building trust in a relationship. It shows your partner that you are willing to admit that you are wrong and wish to make an effort to correct your mistakes.

Related reading: Apology Language Quiz

11. Don’t Be Afraid of Forgiveness

In an apology, there are also issues on the other side of the coin. It can happen that the person refuses to accept it. They may insist that an apology doesn’t count unless given in a specific way, meaning certain body language and wording.

When accepting an apology, be more generous and compassionate. A trusting relationship means being forgiving of your partner at times. If you refuse to accept an apology, you may create a pattern in which your partner never bothers to apologize anymore. That will violate the trust between you two in the long run.

The power of forgiveness in romantic relaitonships

12. Always Be Consistent

Consistency doesn’t mean that you do the same things every single day or always give your partner the same exact gifts. Think of foundational things for your relationship instead.

For ensuring trust in a relationship, it’s worth making consistent efforts to show your partner that you are trustworthy and loyal to them.

If you have specific plans after work that day, tell your partner about them. Do the plans change? Call your partner and let them know of the changes.

By being consistent with your partner you have less of a chance of dealing with broken trust.

13. Take Accountability for Yourself

According to Harvard-trained clinical psychologist Dr. Cortney Warren, taking responsibility for your role in dysfunction is key to healthy relationship communication. As you build trust in relationships, it’s important to start paying attention to yourself as well as your partner:

  • Have that talk about your boundaries and the triggers you have developed during your life
  • Apologize when you have done something wrong
  • Don’t give yourself the need to play detective by making assumptions about what is going on

Remember that taking accountability is a two-way street but it starts with you.

By taking accountability for yourself, you increase the level of comfort in a relationship and develop a greater understanding of each other.

14. Don’t Make Decisions Too Quickly

A big part of building trust in your relationship is communication. That’s why one of the worst things you can do is make a huge decision without consulting other significant people in your life.

Acknowledge the difference between personal independence and caring about others in a relationship. Your closure means for them that you don’t recognize this person’s ability to help you. It’s an unpleasant – or even hurting experience.

Remember that a seemingly natural decision for you may sound like making a strange assumption to others. Clarify things as much as possible if building trust is your priority.

Related reading: How To Maintain Your Individuality While In a Relationship

15. Trust Requires Mutual Respect

How to know if you truly respect your partner? Try to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they someone you believe has good morals and character?
  • If you weren’t in a romantic relationship with them, would you admire them as a person?
  • Is there something I’m proud of about them?

It’s so important to find things to respect in your partner. Otherwise, you’ll find it difficult to acknowledge your partner’s feelings and develop ongoing trust in them.

How to rebuild trust: commonly asked questions

4 Commonly Asked Questions About Trust in Romantic Relationships

Building trust is a never-ending process of balancing, compromising, and paying attention to details. Here are just a few of the more commonly asked questions when it comes to working on trust in a relationship in practice.

1. Can You Regain Trust? If You Can, How?

The answer depends on what caused the trust to break in your relationship. If a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding caused it, then yes. Even though you are experiencing trust issues between the two of you, it can be repaired.

However, if the trust in your relationship was caused by cheating, or your partner putting their own needs before yours when you needed more support, it is harder. You can restore trust with your partner – but this will need much greater effort from that one partner.

Related reading: Characteristics of a Cheating Woman: Pay Attention

2. Is It Necessary to See a Counselor When Working on Trust Issues?

Relationship counseling is a great resource to make your relationship work when you’re stuck accusing each other. By utilizing a licensed therapist throughout your relationships, you bring in a third party with unbiased feelings towards what you are experiencing who gives unswayed recommendations about your problem. That can be extremely helpful if you want to save your relationship.

An unbiased third party helps you and your partner figure out the underlying issues of your relationship and allows you both to focus on the more important matters.

3. How Do I Know If I Have Stopped Trusting My Partner?

For some, it’s fairly obvious when you no longer trust a person – but to others, it’s much harder to recognize. If the latter is your case and you want to know what you really feel, pay attention to how you react to them doing anything:

  • Do you get much angrier at them for being late than you do for anyone else?
  • Do you refuse to tell them about certain events because you don’t want them to attend?

As you start to lose trust, you may find that you see them in a more negative light, even when there is no reason to see them negatively.

4. How Do We Rebuild Trust?

Your ability to rebuild trust depends on the context. Each person needs something slightly different to happen to begin trusting again and moving on with a relationship. The process usually includes:

  • Disclosure of behaviors that led to the destruction of trust
  • Taking ownership
  • Agreement on conditions and behaviors moving forward
  • Seeking counseling if needed

Finally, there needs to be a mutual commitment to forgiveness and moving forward. That may not come immediately. The person who was betrayed may need time to process and might decide that they simply can’t move forward in the relationship.

However, once a decision has been made to continue a relationship, it’s unfair to weaponize the past in future conflicts unless it is truly relevant.

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Takeaway: Trust Is the Core of a Lasting Partnership

Strong couples don’t have to second-guess one another. They don’t check up on each other, or go through one another’s phones. Instead, they simply operate with a sense of confidence in one another. If that foundation of trust doesn’t exist in your relationship, you have some work to do. Because it’s so much easier to love and live with the person you can trust wholeheartedly.

Love&Sex Expert
Cherie Hamilton
I’ve always been inspired by women who are outgoing, very sure of themselves, and not afraid to be who they were, including their sex lives. Under their tutelage, I gradually shed my old self, hung out and socialized with them, and, over time, became the empowered, self-confident, and sexual woman I am today. Happy to share my insights with other women today!
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