Most of my clients have been hurt or burned in a prior relationship. Others are widowed and have had a solid relationship with a partner and know what it’s like to build trust in a relationship over time.
Although these two groups have different experiences with love, one of the things they have in common is a desire to work on in coaching is how to build trust in a relationship—this go-around.
Trust means different things to different people. So, I recommend you explore what trust in a relationship means to you. The following questions are a good place to start gaining clarity about what trust in a relationship is to you.
- Can you trust them with your secrets?
- Can you trust their word and that they’ll follow through on their promises? Can you trust them to do what they say they’ll do?
- Can you trust them to be there when you need them?
- Can you trust them to respect your privacy?
- Can you trust what they say about themselves to be true? (Did you see the Tinder Swindler?)
- Can you trust them to not take advantage of your nice nature?
- Can you trust them to hold up their side of their commitments?
- Can you trust them to treat you with respect and give you the benefit of the doubt?
Once you have a clear understanding of what trust in a relationship means to you, you’re ready to start working on consciously building it in your current or next relationship.
To help you out with the how’s, here are 7 ways to learn how to build trust in a relationship that will go the distance this time around:
Learn to trust yourself first.
Until you learn to trust yourself, you’ll have a hard time trusting anyone else. To increase your trust in yourself in a relationship, you must understand your goals and values and set boundaries about what you are and aren’t willing to do in a relationship.
This is the inner work you have to do before you can re-partner. Do you know what didn’t work for you in your previous relationship? What was hard for you? What was it lacking? And what was your hand in the demise of that relationship?
Greater self-knowledge is the first step to building trust in a relationship.
Understand that trust grows over TIME.
There are different layers of trust and intimacy. I don’t recommend that you give your trust to anyone immediately. Instead, I suggest that you see how this person acts over time.
Don’t trust someone with your deepest, darkest secrets on a first date or even a 5th date. Test them with something that’s revealing but won’t come back to bite you. That way, if they don’t keep your secret, or they use it against you, it won’t be a big deal and you’ll know it’s time to move on.
This leads to the next way you can build trust in a relationship.
Actions speak louder than words.
We all know that in order to start trusting someone we need to know that when they tell us something like, “I’ll call you tomorrow,” we can count on them to follow through.
Trust is built when their actions follow their promises. Although, this isn’t the only key to trust because some people are very good at this even though they aren’t trustworthy.
However, if you’re able to set your boundaries, then it will be more difficult for someone to take advantage of you. Here are a couple of questions for you to think about as you evaluate how your potential partner’s actions and words align.
- Do you know how you want to be treated and what is and isn’t acceptable for you?
- Can you get hold of this person easily or does s/he disappear for a couple of days with no real reason? (This would cause anyone to be easy.)
So, watch his/her actions as a way of knowing whether this is a relationship in which you want to continue to invest in building trust.
One of my clients was dating a man for several months. They traveled to Hawaii and had a dream vacation together. However, when they came back, her mom ended up in the hospital, and he was nowhere to be found. He was scarce because he was busy helping his old girlfriend with something.
As you may have surmised, this relationship didn’t last!
Who can vouch for this person?
Whom do you know that knows this person? Having a common friend is why meeting someone by an introduction can be better than just randomly meeting someone at a Meetup or online.
And if you know someone who’s known this person for many years, that’s even better!
How well do you know the person vouching for this person? How well do they know this person? (From growing up with them, high school, or college is best!)
Or perhaps someone worked with your potential partner or is a relative of theirs.
It’s also very helpful to meet your potential partner’s friends and family members. What do they say about her/him? You can learn a lot about someone by the people they hang out with.
Having someone vouch for your potential partner’s character can be very helpful in figuring out how trustworthy they might be in a relationship.
As an example, one of my female clients in her late 30s was a yoga teacher. A woman in her class knew just the person my client needed to meet. So, the woman introduced her divorced nephew to my client. And when they met, they immediately hit it off. Today they’re happily married with a child.
Do your research.
This suggestion for building trust in a relationship is similar to the previous one. By doing a little digging, you might be able to find out a lot about someone you’re dating. Some places you might explore as you’re doing your research about a potential partner include:
- Social Media – Do they have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn page? What do their posts reveal about them? If they have a private page, what does that reveal about them? If they’re on LinkedIn, does what they say about their background line up with what they’ve shared with you?
- Google – When you google their name, do they show up? And if so, what shows up?
- Background Checking Sites – You can also try sites like https://www.instantcheckmate.com/, https://www.beenverified.com/, https://www.truthfinder.com/, and https://www.spokeo.com/ to verify information about them.
- PI – You can hire a private detective if you feel it’s necessary.
- Credit – You can also ask to share credit scores or a credit report.
I’ve seen and heard many horror stories about people getting snowed by someone who looked good and acted as if they were a good catch.
A guy or gal can’t be too careful these days. So, I recommend you do your research and know whom you’re intending to build a relationship with BEFORE becoming exclusive or engaged!
Understand controlling versus accommodating behavior.
Have you ever met someone who seemed so nice and accommodating ask you to do something you weren’t comfortable doing?
If you have, have you learned to see the wolf in sheep’s clothing?
So many of my clients were hurt by their last partner and come to me afraid that they won’t see through this kind of person again.
When it comes to knowing how to build trust in a relationship, it’s important to be able to see the signs of someone who is controlling versus accommodating. (Many times, the word narcissist comes up in discussions like these.)
How can you really build trust in a relationship with someone who is a “me” person and not a “we” person?
Here are a few questions you might ponder to help you determine whether your potential partner is a “me” or a “we” person:
- Do they ask you what you would like and what’s comfortable for you?
- Do they make plans and decisions without consulting you first?
- Do they put down your friends and try to isolate you?
- Do they make you feel insecure and not sure where you stand?
I recommend you set your boundaries, know what you want, and hold your ground. Don’t fall too quickly for a “me” persona or you’ll regret it later. All in all, it’s about trusting yourself most of all.
Controlling people do show their true colors over time. They can’t help it. Don’t get railroaded into getting hitched too quickly or you may be sorry. The right person will wait for you and give you the time you need to build trust in them and the relationship.
Make sure it’s not just for show!
Last, but not least, when considering how to build trust in a relationship, you want to make sure that a person is consistent in his/her behavior toward you. That they don’t show their good side to others and their bad one to you.
You don’t want a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kind of scenario. Time and patience are the consistent themes of building trust in a relationship. There are good actors out there who can really put on a show. People think they’re really nice and will tell you so. And yet, when you’re alone with them, it’s a different story.
Moods do come and go. Some people are more even-keeled while others have big swings. You get to decide what you can tolerate in a relationship.
Another angle to consider is whether the “I’m’ sorry” after an upheaval is genuine or just a way to placate you.
Healthy and loving relationships are possible with the right people. And to be successful in finding the right person for you, you need to know yourself first and be extremely clear about what you’ll tolerate in a relationship. Even with all of these tips, sometimes building trust for the long haul is still a leap of faith.
If you need some help assessing a relationship as being the right one, then reach out to me. My coaching process gives you the tools and understanding to see a relationship as “the one” or not. Some relationships aren’t clear-cut, and we have to sort through what’s going on. Many of my clients come to be when they’re dating someone and are considering getting engaged, yet something is gnawing at them.
If this is you, then go to https://motivatedtomarry.com/connect-with-coach-amy/ to schedule some time for us to talk. Your time is precious, and I can help you make sure you’re getting love right this time!