One of the hardest things about trusting someone is learning to have confidence in your own judgment.
Our capacity to trust others is determined by our life experiences. Mistrust is a form of self-protection: the less you trust, the more you’ve been hurt.
Cycle of Mistrust:
Mistrust can spread through a relationship like a wildfire and it can happen in stages. First it might be doubting your partner and feeling uncertain about their trustworthiness and dependability. Doubt, if unresolved, grows into suspicion over time. Suspicion is belief without proof. This causes anxiety and feelings of apprehension or uneasiness which can often manifest physically (nervousness, a rapid heartbeat, anger, a knotted stomach, or even disgust). And when you’re anxious you become fearful, mistrust at this point in your relationship stops you from being open and vulnerable. Finally when you feel fearful, you go into self-protection mode: you withdraw, the walls come up and you stop your partner from getting close to you.
Trust from both partners are the pillars that hold up a relationship, and when they’re knocked, disconnection occurs. When you can no longer be vulnerable with the other person, you begin to experience different things in your relationship.
Take a moment to consider this: your partner is not solely responsible for creating mistrustful feelings. In most cases, you must take equal responsibility for creating an atmosphere of safety and security in your relationship. In order to begin the process of overcoming mistrust, ask yourself:
- What is the story I’m telling myself?
- Does my fear of loss and abandonment cloud my perspective and cause me to overreact to my partner’s actions?
- Is my mistrust coming from something that is actually happening in the present, or is it related to my past?
- Do I feel comfortable asking for what I need and allowing myself to be vulnerable?
Here are 8 ways to build trust in a relationship:
1. Be open, acknowledge feelings & practice being vulnerable.
If you need reassurance from your partner, ask for it. If you’re feeling insecure, let them know. Invite them into knowing you, how they make you feel and how you want to make them feel. Be open about your hopes, fears and dreams.
2. Assume your partner has good intentions.
If they let you down, it may not be intentional –sometimes people simply make a mistake. Don’t immediately assume that they are out to get you, it’s okay to question their intentions but be open to accepting that it may be a simple mistake.
3. Be honest & communicate about key issues in your relationship.
Spend time every day checking-in, turning towards each other and reflecting on how things are. If there are issues in your relationship, don’t let them build, bring them into the light. Start small, speak from the “I” (I feel, I notice, I wonder) and have open starters.
4. Acknowledge how past hurts may trigger mistrust in the present.
Ask yourself: is my lack of trust due to my partner’s actions, my own insecurities, or both? Be aware of unresolved issues from your past relationships that may be triggering mistrust in the present.
5. Listen to your partner’s side of the story.
Look out of their window. Make space to ask: how did you see this situation? What is your perspective? How did it make you feel? How did you experience this?
6. Trust your intuition.
Have confidence in your own perceptions (as well as weighing them up against past experiences) and pay attention to red flags. If your gut is telling you something, don’t let it sit. Speak it. Ask that question. If you harbour it, it will grow like a thorn in the side of your relationship.
7. Practice repair after an argument.
Take a short break if you feel overwhelmed or flooded and set a time to process what happened. This will give you both time to calm down and collect your thoughts so you can have a more meaningful dialogue with your partner.
8. Know that it is not needy to say what you need.
We get SO angry and frustrated with our partners when they do not meet our needs. But have you stopped to ask yourself: “have I made this need very clear? Have I let them know how they can meet it?” Our partners are not mind readers, more often than not: we have to teach them how to meet our needs.
How to rebuild after trust has been broken:
The natural rhythm of relationships is to go from harmony to disharmony to repair and restoration. But lots of people get stuck in disharmony and push apart so hard that they can’t or won’t engage in repair. The goal is to move forward together, not to move backward.
If trust has been broken, there are steps you can take to repair:
- Set a time to talk and name the feelings you experienced due to the breach of trust without blame or criticism.
- Listening to your partner without judgment, and each of you describe your perspective and discuss any feelings that were triggered by the incident.
- Both of you assess how you contributed to the incident and hold yourselves accountable.
- Both apologise from a place of genuineness and accept the apologies.
- Develop a plan to prevent further breaches of trust from occurring.
Did you know that we offer Couples Therapy? Head to our booking page, choose a time that suits you and have a check-in.