It can take a long time to build trust in a relationship, but it can be lost within a few minutes. It’s important that you have trust within yourself and your relationships. If you have ever struggled with trust in a relationship, here are 7 new ways to challenge your view of it.
1. Know the two types of trust.
There are two different types of trust: realistic and unrealistic.
Unrealistic trust is when you believe that you have 100% trust in another person, 100% of the time. Sorry to burst your bubble if you think you can trust another person all of the time. This is impossible because you and your partner are human, which means you both make mistakes that triggers trust issues.
Realistic trust means that your going to question behavior and actions at times. It doesn’t mean that you have to react or get emotional, when you have a concern. It means that you can discuss your concerns with your partner in an assertive and healthy way. Look at realistic trust as the “new normal” for trust. There will be things that your partner doesn’t tell you so accept this as fact. No one has a relationship where they tell one another everything all of the time. This doesn’t mean you or or partner are not transparent and open. It means that you both are individual people and don’t share every single thing with one another, this would be impossible to do.
The way to keep trust solid is to check in with one another. If you are able to speak with your partner, it’s easier to maintain the trust connection. This has to be done in an assertive, non-defensive, and logical way.
2. Give your definition of trust a makeover.
Merriam-Webster defines trust as assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Also it defines trust as one in which confidence is placed.
How would you define trust and what does it mean to you?
I define trust as the consistency between what is said and what actions are taken. I also see trust as my ability to be vulnerable with someone and not getting hurt in the process of vulnerability.
I want you to consider creating a “new normal” for trust. It may look something like this. There isn’t one person who has a relationship that is 100% transparent, because that would be impossible. You and your partner aren’t going to tell one another everything, but your not going to do anything that will hurt the person either.
Trust isn’t all or nothing and it fluctuates throughout the day. This fluctuation depends on behaviors, actions, how we feel, and what occurs within the relationship. If it was all or nothing, then anytime you questioned if you trusted your partner then the relationship would end. If you are with your partner in anyway, then you trust them at least at a 1 out of 10. When trust and connection are strong it’s in the high numbers near 10, when something happens, it drops to the lower range. No one has a relationship where trust is at a 10 all of the time.
3. Get down to the real issue.
Regardless of what issue you are dealing with in your relationship, every one of them can lead back to trust. Think of trust as the root that holds the relationship in place. The root’s job is to stabilize the relationship and deliver nutrients to help it grow. If the root is damaged or doesn’t get nurtured then the relationship will not survive.
Have you ever felt that your partner doesn’t listen to you? This frustration may come from your thinking that they don’t value what you have to say. If you don’t feel valued and important, your trust in them decreases. This decrease in trust is very small but if trust is triggered in other ways, it slowly degrades.
Intimacy and trust move in tandem. This means that you can’t have one without the other. If trust decreases, then intimacy (a.k.a. your connection) decreases with it. If intimacy is strong, then trust is strong as well. Often, I hear someone tell me that they trust their partner but they don’t feel connected to them. I call them out on this thought because trust and intimacy are always together; if you connection is low then your level of trust is low as well.
Remember, trust fluctuates, daily and is affected by many things that you may not realize lead back to trust.
4. Care less how others view trust.
Maybe you reach out for support from friends or family when there is a trust issue within your relationship. However, they may view trust differently than you do. Don’t get stuck in their definition. You have to decide what is best for you first and foremost. They love you and don’t want to see you hurt, so they will tell you everything they can to help you hurt less. They are probably right in most cases, however, you have to be the one responsible for your decisions not them.
Be prepared to hear their opinions or feedback about how you’re handling the situation. Listening to their thoughts help you go through your own process of decision making. Just remember, that you have to be prepared to deal with your decisions and consequences, not them.
5. Deal with your past hurt.
Have you been cheated on or hurt in the past? Make sure that you are getting yourself healthy and repairing this past hurt. Projection is a powerful defense mechanism that can keep you stuck. Projection is when you take your own unacceptable qualities or feelings and blame them on someone else.
If you were hurt in a previous relationship, you may have feelings related to this. This is when you project these feelings and trust issues from past relationships onto your current relationship. Sure you are fearful and your baggage affects your ability to connect fully with your partner. However, this also pushes your partner away. Don’t make them pay the price for what someone else did to you. Get honest, get support, and heal your pain before it ruins your current relationship. Don’t let your past hurt determine your future.
6. Find out their willingness to improve trust.
Your partner has hurt you and caused you to lose trust in them. You may be trying to decide if you leave the relationship or stay. Before you decide what you need to do, there is another big decision that your partner has to make. Are they willing to do whatever it takes to heal the relationship?
Don’t get caught up in your decision making before you have heard theirs. You may be surprised to hear that your partner isn’t willing to put in the work and give the time to repair the damage. If they feel this way don’t ignore it or think they will change their mind. They are being honest, listen to them, get some space, and start a new journey. Don’t try to convince them or make them want to stay. They don’t want to and you can’t change them.
The only things that heals a relationship after trust is damaged is time and next right actions. Time has to pass after the event that damaged trust. As time passes and your partner does the next right thing, trust will repair but it takes both of you to work on healing.
7. Explore forgiveness.
In learning to trust again you need to explore forgiveness. Before you get emotional and say that you don’t have to forgive, stop, and think about your pain. Your heart hurts and feels broken, because of your their actions. The act of forgiveness is to help you not them. You aren’t being asked to consider forgiveness to pardon them or make them feel better. You are working on yourself and trying to heal the pain you feel.
Forgiveness looks different to everyone, but it’s more important of what it means to you. It won’t take away all of your hurt and it won’t make your partner do things differently. Forgiveness can give you the release that you have been looking for. It can unload the burden you have been carrying around. Forgiveness is a gift for you, not them.
How have you recovered from trust issues?
Trust is all you have…it’s your character. It is reinforced by your judgment, past actions, and behaviors. The goal is not to be malicious, deceitful, or hurt the person you care about. If we all stopped to ask, “If I do this, will it hurt or help my relationship?” before we took action, there is no telling how healthy our relationships would be.
How did you recover from trust issues? Share your comments in the section below.
A clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. From sex/intimacy, personal growth, and relationships, I am here to help you every step of the way.