8 Ways To Build Trust In A Relationship (+ 8 Trust Exercises)

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Whether you’re newly coupled up or in a long-term relationship that needs a bit of a boost, here are some great tips on how to build, and maintain, trust with your partner.

These are things you can start doing and encouraging in them, or ideas you can work through together.

Find what works for you and stick at it! Trust is about sustainable, long-term commitment, so make sure you’re in it for the long-haul.

1. Work on your communication styles.

Communication is a key way to build trust in your relationship.

That means finding a style and method of communication that works for you both, and then finding ways to maintain and respect that.

Communicating goes way beyond just being able to have a conversation or a discussion – it’s about letting your partner know how you truly feel (more on this below!), expressing what you need and want from them, respecting them and not projecting on them, and setting and following boundaries (again, more on this later!).

Trust exercise:

Get comfortable with communicating. This one is pretty easy, in theory, but it might feel like a challenge if it’s an area that either you or your partner have struggled with in the past.

Practice expressing your needs, whether that’s receiving more affection from your partner, or establishing some boundaries so that you can enjoy some alone time.

This might involve saying something like:

“I had a bad day and I would love a hug if you’re able to give me one,”

or,

“I love you, but I need some space, so I’m going to do some yoga on my own tonight.”

This approach to communication is great – it doesn’t put any blame on your partner, so they are unlikely to feel rejected or responsible for your mood, and it shows you setting your boundaries and asking for what you need.

But communication is also about hearing what the other person has to say, so get used to listening – really listening – to what your partner is trying to get across. Don’t interrupt, don’t try to finish their thoughts for them – just listen.

This will build trust in your relationship because you will both feel able to express yourself and know that you are being heard. It’s a sign of respect, and respect is one of the foundations of trust.

2. Practice being honest.

You probably could have predicted this one, but if you’re always open about how you feel, your partner will never have the chance to wonder how you feel or what’s going on in your mind.

The more open you are, regularly, the less need they have to ever doubt or question how honest you’re being about the big things.

This will help build up your partner’s trust in what you say, and how you act. It will remove their anxiety about whether or not they can trust you, because they’ll know that you’re telling the truth.

This will also encourage your partner to feel more comfortable expressing their own feelings, and will help you both feel more confident in the relationship.

Trust exercise:

Start off small, and open up about how you honestly feel about something that is pretty low-stakes in terms of your relationship.

That means, rather than suddenly admitting that you hate your partner’s parents, be honest about something ‘less important,’ like how you prefer when they cook curry instead of chilli, for example.

It might seem very silly, but it will help you get comfortable with expressing your true feelings.

You will become more confident when it comes to honesty, and your partner will start to realize that you are honest about how you feel.

They will get so used to you just telling the truth, that they won’t feel the need to question you over the bigger things, when they do come up.

3. Be humble.

When you’re in a new relationship, especially, it can be very tempting to go all-out and show the person you like just how amazing you are.

This might seem like a good idea, as you want to make a great impression, but it may end up making the other person feel slightly insecure or unsure of what’s going on.

They might start to worry that you’re so confident, you don’t really need them in your life, and they’ll start to get concerned about being rejected by you.

While it’s well-intentioned, your confidence may come across as braggy or too self-assured to those who struggle with their own self-esteem.

Trust exercise:

Let yourself be humble with the person you like. Accept that, by being yourself, you are opening yourself up to rejection, but also to a more genuine connection.

Let yourself be silly and goofy, and talk about the things that interest you, even if you think you might be seen as geeky.

This will show the person you like, or your partner, that you can have a laugh at your own expense and that you’re not obsessed with how other people see you.

It might sound like a weird way to build trust, but it works! The more they can see you for who you are and the more they realize that you’re comfortable in yourself, the more they will feel like they can trust you.

You wouldn’t trust someone who was too charming, too polite, too groomed after all, right? You’d probably be more likely to trust the person that goofed around and had a laugh, and made you feel comfortable and valued.

4. Own up to your mistakes.

This is something for both you and your partner to work on, but, if you’re the one reading this, you might need to be the person to put in a bit more effort in the beginning to get the ball rolling.

Part of being in a healthy, trusting relationship is admitting when you are in the wrong.

It doesn’t need to be in a self-deprecating or martyr-type way, but you need to openly acknowledge when you have made a mistake or upset your partner’s feelings without just cause.

By doing this, you are letting your partner know that you value them and that you hear them. You are willing to accept you were wrong, despite the dent it may make in your pride, for the greater good and the sake of your relationship.

This shows your partner that you care about them, and will help them communicate more openly with you. If they know that you will apologize, and have open conversations about feeling disappointed or betrayed, they will be more committed to making things work with you, and you can both trust each other more.

If your partner never said sorry for upsetting you, you wouldn’t feel confident in the relationship and probably wouldn’t want to trust them with your heart.

Trust exercise:

Start by acknowledging how your partner feels. Assess whether or not this is something you have played a part in or if it’s something else.

It sounds basic, but focusing on your partner’s behavior will help you develop a much deeper awareness of their scale of emotions, especially if the relationship is relatively new.

Acknowledge that you have contributed to their negative feelings, if you have, and let them know.

“I’m sorry I did X and for making you feel like Y. I won’t do it again because I don’t want to hurt you.”

Something along these lines is a good place to start if you’re unsure of how to communicate this kind of thing just yet.

Let them know that you see or hear how they feel, you understand what you have done that has contributed to it, and you will do your best to avoid this happening again.

Doing this over time will show your partner that they can trust you, because they know that you are self-aware enough to monitor your own behavior.

This is also a subtle way of introducing boundaries in your relationship – again, great if you’ve not been together for very long yet.

For example, you apologizing for flirting with someone else when you’re first dating shows them that you realize that it’s not okay – this makes them then feel confident that you now know the boundaries and the exclusivity of your relationship. It reinforces your commitment to your partner and leads to a healthier, trusting relationship.

The key here is to actually mean it when you say you’ll try not to do it again. If you repeatedly go against your word and repeat the same mistakes, it will actually harm your partner’s trust in you in a big way.

5. Be vulnerable.

For many of us, trust is built in hard times. It’s formed and strengthened through challenges, as those are the times we realize who we can really rely upon and who can support us in the ways that we need to be supported.

If you want to build more trust with your partner, you can start by being more vulnerable. That means letting them see you when you’re upset, letting them know what you’re scared of, and letting them hear your worries and anxieties.

It might feel very scary at first, especially if you are quite new to this in a relationship. But you will soon get comfortable with truly being yourself in front of your partner.

It will also encourage them to let their guard down more with you, as they will realize how liberating and secure it can feel.

The more you know you are both being yourselves, the less there is to worry about – after all, if you are both being raw and genuine, what is there left to hide?

Trust exercise:

Start small, as always with this kind of exercise. Rather than holding back after a bad day at work, for example, open up to your partner about how you’re feeling.

If you’re having an anxious day and are feeling a bit withdrawn or introverted, let yourself be vulnerable in front of your partner by explaining to them what those feelings do to your mood.

The more you can let your guard down and be truly yourself (even when you’re crying or stressed or angry!), the more you allow your partner to really know who you are.

If your trust issues are coming from a fear of abandonment, this exercise can also really help! Once you know that your partner has seen every aspect of you and they still choose to be with you, you will feel so much more confident in the relationship as you’re not holding back or presenting a ‘better’ version of yourself. You know they are here for the real you, and that is what makes a relationship full of trust and love.

6. Respect boundaries – yours and theirs!

Boundaries are so important in every relationship, but especially in ones where there is some concern around trust.

If you want to have a trusting, faithful relationship, you need to make sure you respect your partner’s boundaries just as much as your own!

That means understanding that if they need a day to themselves to just chill and reset, it is not because of you, and is not indicative of their feelings for you.

Equally, it means that you need to respect how you feel if you’re starting to get too caught up in things or need some space.

The more that you can communicate these needs to each other, the less personally each of you will take it if one of you needs some downtime. You’ll start to realize that a) it is their right as an individual to want some time alone, and b) it is better for the relationship in the long-run.

Trust exercise:

Encourage your partner to express their needs and boundaries by doing the same yourself.

Have an honest conversation with them before suddenly launching into “I need alone time and you need to get out!” – trust us, this will not go down well.

Instead, speak to your partner and make sure you let them know that this is something you can both do and both benefit from equally.

Let them know that it’s not about how you feel about each other, but that it’s healthy for the relationship and will make things better in a sustainable way.

Then start saying things like, “I’m not feeling quite myself, so I think I might stay at mine tonight – but let’s do something nice together tomorrow morning.”

This is great, as it lets them know what you need (space) and why (you’re not feeling 100%) and that you still care about them and want to spend time with them on better terms (doing something together soon).

7. Call out disappointments.

If you or your partner consistently skip commitments you’ve made with each other, like meeting up for dinner or having that conversation, you’re both disrespecting the relationship.

Trusting someone means putting your faith in them, which can be hard when they continue to be flakey or dismissive of things that you feel are important.

Your partner might not realize how important date night is to you, so they might think it’s okay to bail one time.

You might have told them you’re fine with it, or even said something like, “Yeah, I’m too tired as well; let’s reschedule,” because you were upset and wanted to brush it off and act like you didn’t really care.

That’s a pretty standard reaction, but it makes your partner think that you didn’t really care, so they can do it again without upsetting you.

If they don’t experience a negative reaction from something, they won’t know now to do it – makes sense, right?

Trust exercise:

Nobody can read minds, so this exercise will require communicating and being honest about your feelings – two key aspects of a trusting relationship we’ve mentioned above.

Start by telling your partner if they have done something that upsets you. Not every time, of course, as that is unfair and it’s unrealistic to think that someone will never hurt your feelings!

Instead, let them know that you were looking forward to spending quality time with them, and that you’d like them to honor the commitments they make to you.

You can explain that this makes you feel valued and cared for, and that you like being a consideration in their life.

The more you can get used to sharing these feelings and ensuring you both honor your promises to each other, the more trust you will enjoy with your partner.

8. Take your time.

Trust doesn’t happen overnight!

If you’re reading this article, it might be because you’re feeling quite anxious about your relationship, or because something has happened with your partner in the past to make you question how much you can, or should, trust them.

Remember that building trust in a relationship, and regaining trust in your partner, can take some time.

You are not ‘failing’ or ‘incompatible’ just for taking it slowly and getting to know each other, and the relationship, at your own speed.

Trust that is built over time requires patience, and is not about one huge, romantic act, but about small, daily ways that you and your partner can show you trust each other.

Trust exercise:

There is no rush when it comes to trust in a relationship, so take your time and move at a pace that suits you both. Remember that you can talk to your partner about this too!

Rather than working your way through this list all at once and expecting the ‘perfect relationship’ overnight, stay realistic with your expectations.

This way, you can manage your hopes, and rather than feeling disappointed and getting upset or frustrated, you can watch your relationship build over time and go from strength to strength.

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Remember that everyone is different, as is every relationship. While you might find that everything in this article applies to you, you might also find your own path with your partner.

This guide is meant to be helpful, as well as a point of reflection. Rather than using it as a checklist, use it as a resource to go inwards and think more deeply about what you genuinely want – and what ‘trust’ really means to you.

You might read this and realize that you and your partner are already great at setting boundaries, and that your communication levels work really well already.

By having that thought, you’ll feel more confident in your relationship, knowing that you’ve already built a great foundation for love and trust.

Remember that you and your partner are together in this, and you can make this a journey of reflection and commitment together, however that looks for you.

Still not sure how to work on trust in your relationship? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out either individually or as a couple. Simply click here to chat.

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About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.