Trust is the foundation of any relationship. It is difficult to be truly vulnerable with someone you don’t trust. Trust isn’t built overnight; it takes time. In a relationship, many small moments added together become the building blocks of trust. It might be when you fought with your parents, and your partner took your side, the time you shared that you had been hurt in your last relationship and your partner gave you a warm, comforting hug, or when they said they would be somewhere at a particular time and they kept their promise. All of these small moments add up over time and build a solid foundation of trust.
If we learn that our partner is inconsistent, sometimes compassionate when we are vulnerable, and other times defensive, we understand that we cannot trust the response we will get. It limits the intimacy we can have in that relationship.
Learning to be empathetic with your partner is one of the most powerful things you can do to build trust in your relationship. Empathy is the ability to stand in another person’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. Empathy helps with defensiveness. If we tend to be defensive in conflict, taking a moment to see the world through our partner’s eyes will often allow us to take more responsibility than if don’t do this.
I like to think of trust as one of the facets of the relationship diamond that needs to be polished and tended to. If you find you can’t trust your partner in the small things, what will happen in the big things?
If you are focused on building a solid foundation for your relationship, focusing on the things in this list will help.
Much love on your healing journey
Gottman research: “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” (1999).