Psychotherapy  & Naturopathic Services in Etobicoke

Trust and Relationships: Part 2

When we enter a relationship with someone new, when we feel hurt by another person’s actions, or when we hurt our partner, it is common to avoid certain conversations. However, when we pull away, we create distance in our relationship. We fear scaring the other person or pushing them away in the short-term, when in reality, talking to them could help narrow the gap in the long-term.


Here are 8 ways to build and maintain trust in relationships:


1. Accept the Effort


Do not assume you are worthy of or take the concept of trust for granted. We have to be willing to maintain trust within a relationship. It is important to make it a priority so that our partner feels connected to us, and vice versa. It is possible that we may lose pieces of trust from our partner, and it is crucial to be willing to rebuild those elements.


2. Stick to Your Word / Do as You Say


A large component of trust with your partner is trust relative to reliability. It is important that your partner knows they can ask you for a favour, or to help them with something, and feel confident that you will follow through. These items can be minor or major, and in the end, they add up to your partner knowing they can count on you. For example, if you ask your partner to bring toilet paper home on their way home from work, it is something they can reasonably expect you do (unless you communicate otherwise along the way).


3. Communicate Openly and in Person


Think about what you would like to know, and provide your partner with that same opportunity. When you are curious, your partner likely is to. In addition to being open, the method of which you choose to relay information is important. The meaning and tone of a message can be misinterpreted over text, or even on the phone. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and overall body language are very important pieces that your partner picks up on. Communicating needs can be hard as is, so removing the extra layers of communication over text can leave less open to interpretation.


4. Let Go of Judgments


Your partner may bring forth some information, a need, or a request that you may not understand. It is fair to not agree with every item your partner brings forth; however, it is important to acknowledge and try to see their perspective. You might not understand why something is important to your partner, but the fact that it is important is all that matters. Before you can trust, you must respect each other and your differences without judgment.


5. Be Vulnerable with Each Other


It is much easier to keep information in about yourself than to share it. The deep-seated secrets and fears that you may not feel comfortable sharing are those pieces that can bring you so much closer to each other. How do you feel when others share their fears and struggles with you? Those that share with you have let you in, and made it easier for you to share back. So, you will be amazed at what can happen if you do share one little piece. Chances are, your partner will tell you something new that you can learn about them.


6. Forgive Each Other


You may have a very solid base of trust between each other, and at the same time, it is possible that you may feel hurt or you may hurt your partner. We are imperfect human beings, and mistakes can happen. Know that it is unlikely your partner will say or do something to intentionally hurt you. Holding onto transgressions or mishaps will only erode the trust in the relationship. We should feel the ability to make mistakes and accept responsibility thereafter, without it being a constant source of contention. Letting go of the hurt, accepting the apology and moving on builds a trust based on honesty and love for the other person. If past betrayals surface, resist the urge to dwell on them. It will get in the way of fostering healthy relationships you are working to build now.


7. Self-development and Self-care


Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others. Taking care of you is the opposite of being selfish, as it strengthens you, and enables you to better support everyone you are connected to. In any relationship, it is important for the people in it to grow as a couple and as individuals. Personal growth helps maintain the relationship and trust in each other.


8. Be Supportive


It is important in any relationship to be supportive of the other person. Support may include being physically present and providing physical affection to the person, or it may be giving emotional comfort through validation and words of affirmation. To learn more about the type of support your partner appreciates, and to understand your needs better, take the ‘5 Love Languages’ Quiz. It is even more important to show that support when we are in a stage of building trust. This involves both parties in the relationship feeling comfortable to take a risk, be vulnerable, make mistakes or try new things, knowing their partner will be there to catch them if they fall. Supporting your partner creates a united team, easing the feelings of loneliness.


If we do not take the time to understand what our partner is looking for in a relationship, or express our needs and feelings, it can be difficult to build and/ or continue to grow a strong foundation of trust. Relationship counselling can be a helpful way to work through these issues.


See our previous article on ‘Trust and Relationships: Part 1’ to understand and check in relationship on some major aspects of trust. 


Written by Carly Clifton, Director & Registered Psychotherapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.


To learn more about how we can support you with building trust in your current and/ or future relationships, contact us at 647-961-9669 or



Trust and Relationships: Part 1

Elements of Trust in a Relationship


Trust is a concept that almost always comes up in starting, working through, or picking up the pieces in all of our relationships. The reason it continues to be ever-present is because it filters through all avenues of our life. When you first think of ‘trust’, you might automatically think of it in relation to ‘fidelity’ or ‘infidelity’. While this is a very important aspect of trust, it is one of many elements that are important to foster in partnerships.


Trust is not a black and white concept. It is very unlikely that you fully trust a person or fully distrust them. It is far more likely that you trust certain people in certain respects and other people in other ways.

Below, we have outlined 6 major parts of trust that deserve attention and energy in your relationship.


1. Fidelity

The first form of trust we think of in relationships is fidelity. It is important that, without previous transgressions among the two of you, you are able to provide that partner with full trust that they will be faithful to you and only you.

However, if elements of emotional or physical unfaithfulness do arise, it is important to accept that you will be able trust them again in this area, with time and effort. It will be harmful, not helpful, to hold grudges against your partner who might have slipped up.

It is important to recognize when your partner might be hurt, or when you might have hurt your partner. If the ‘betrayer’ wants to salvage the relationship, it will be beneficial to become completely transparent for a period of time (such as no secret passwords, meetings, etc). Over time, the ‘injured’ partner, will need to accept that the total transparency will not be forever useful, and will need to, one again, trust in the dark.

If you have not experienced incidents of infidelity in your relationship, it will be important to continue to provide words and actions that demonstrate your commitment and loyalty to them.


2. Physical Safety

Whether or not this has been a concern for you in the past, it is an important element of trust. This area emphasizes being able to feel safe in their presence (such as knowing they will not violate your sense of personal safety and wellbeing), being able to trust that they would prioritize your health and safety (such as driving safely with you in the car), and being able to protect you from harm or in dangerous situations (such as helping you to escape a crime scene).

If you live together, it is important that your home and space feel as though it is a safe environment. It is important that you do not worry about yourself or others in this space, or any spaces you may encounter together.

If you are in a situation where you fear your safety and wellbeing, please consider seeing a therapist for counselling, going to the police, or calling a local distress line that deals with such issues.


3. Financial Security

Most people in long-term relationships find ways to combine their financial resources, or have payments they are jointly committed to. This is a powerful from of trust, as our security is tied immediately to our financial resources.

Do you feel as though you can trust your partner with your financial security? Would you trust your partner with your banking account, your mortgage payment, and/ or your investments?

Regardless of whether you have combined your finances, it is important to reflect on the reasons, and reflect on if you worry about this sense of security in your relationship.


4. Emotional Predictability

Inconsistent emotional patterns can make it difficult to build a healthy, loving relationship. Sharing negative emotions is part of communicating openly in relationships, and it is critical to feel safe when doing so.

Take a moment to think about what it would be like/ what it is like if your partner was emotionally erratic. This can occur when a couple has a very pleasant and enjoyable exchange, and without warning, one partner acts randomly out of anger. It can feel unstable and unpredictable when your partner suddenly acts in what feels an irrational state with you without explaining themselves.

Are you able to trust your partner’s emotional reactions most of the time? Have you ever felt that you were unable to trust their emotional reactions?

If emotional unpredictability is part of your relationship, please consider thinking about what it would be like to suggest altering the language and reactions. Are you both open to using non-accusatory language, reducing blame and outbursts from your life? Couples counselling can be extremely beneficial to find the tools to build healthy strategies to express your emotions.


5. Truthfulness

It is important to feel as though you can trust your partner to tell you the truth in certain aspects of their life, and at times, you might need some affirmation that what they are telling you is, in fact, the truth. There might be times a ‘white lie’ comes up to protect you and hide a surprise that actually might be for you. These are not the times we are focusing on.

When your partner tells you something, do you believe them? Do you trust your partner if they come home late and tell you they had a last-minute meeting at work? Do you believe they are writing a work email rather than messaging someone else?

It is important not to feel as though you have to ‘check’ their words, actions, patterns to see if they are truly being authentic with you. The ability to trust that your partner is being honest with you is a critical part of building and maintaining trust.


6. Reliability

As an integral part of your life, yours and your partner’s needs will inherently cross over at times. When you have a difficult day, and would like help finishing one of your tasks, it is important that you are able to call your partner and ask them to help you, and know that they will follow through.

Your partner will likely want to depend on you during challenging times. You might also want some extra help, and to feel as though you can count on your partner to remember what they promised you. Do you trust them if they told you that they got the kids to school on time or that they made the deposit at the bank that you requested?

In order to better understand the ways in which you can develop trust, take the time to explore which of these six elements are present in your current relationship, within both of your actions. There are likely areas where you rate your partner more highly than you do in other areas. This is natural. No one is perfect, and it is normal that you trust your partner more in some areas than in others.


*Stay tuned for our article next week on ways to build and maintain trust.*

Written by Carly Clifton, Director & Registered Psychotherapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

It takes time to build up trust in a relationship. The best way to start doing that is by practicing transparency. Let us help you grow trust within your partner, whether solely in individual counselling or together in relationship counselling.

To learn more about how we can support you with building trust in your current and/ or future relationships, contact us at 647-961-9669 or

Drawing the Line in the Sand: Boundary Setting (Part 3)

One of the most difficult parts of setting boundaries for most is to actually say “no” and turn down requests. This is difficult because it can bring up feelings of guilt and perhaps inadequacy or the fear of hurting others’ feelings. It can be difficult to say “no” because you believe you are ‘not allowed to’ or that you do not want to take responsibility for the result of saying no. Usually, in my mind, there is a fear of “what if they get mad or upset?”

Some things to consider in saying “no” include:

– Waiting for the question or request from another person
– Not answering until you have decided your position on the request. You might want to say “let me think about that and I’ll get back to you”
– Using clear language. Instead of saying “maybe, it’s possible ..” say “No, I can’t do that”
– Limiting apologies unless if it’s necessary, because “sorry” holds less value if you use it too often
– Don’t make excuses or defend yourself as it may result in others offering solutions to the barriers you’re proposing and then you can find yourself in a spiral of lies
– Saying “no” without asking for permission or acceptance since it’s your right to say “no” to requests
– Accepting the consequences since the person on the receiving end may not like it and show it. They’re allowed to feel what they feel just as much as you are allowed to say “no” to their request

Now that have identified items to consider, here are a few examples ways you can say “no”:

– “No, thank you”

– “I have a policy of not making impulsive decisions. I need time to think about this before”

– “I appreciate that you’re asking me this. However, I am not able to help you with that”

– “This seems really important for you. At the moment, I don’t have the ability to put the attention into this as you will need, so I have to say no”

– “I can’t say yes at this time”

– “I don’t want to commit and then disappoint you”

– “I’d love to help; however, I’m feeling overextended and cannot provide what you need”

It can be helpful to practice this on people who you feel safe and close to before trying this in situations and with people you might find saying “no” to be more challenging with.


Written by Vivian Zhang, Clinical Therapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

To learn more about how we can support you with developing healthy boundaries and communication tools, contact us at or 647-961-9669.

Drawing the Line in the Sand: Boundary Setting (Part 2)

Asking for What You Need

Boundaries are important for our own understanding of our limits and what we’re comfortable with. When our boundaries are violated, we tend to feel uncomfortable, upset, distant, hurt, or angry (to name a few emotional responses). An important part to setting boundaries is knowing how to ask for what we need.

Some important guidelines to consider before asking for what we need include:

  1. Setting a boundary with an action to follow (e.g. be okay with walking away from a relationship if the other person continues to violate your boundaries)
  2. Being clear, direct, and firm in the words you use
  3. Limiting the use of debating, defending or over-explaining yourself
  4. Knowing and connecting with your support network
  5. Staying grounded in what you need by not giving in if this is important to you


Now, you’re ready to ask for what you need. A simple way to structure our conversations in asking for what we need is to use the DEAR MAN strategy:

DEAR MAN” is an acronym, with each letter representing its own skill. As you learn and try to use these skills, you’ll find that having hard conversations becomes easier over time.

Describe the situation (“I’ve noticed that …”). Stay factual and reduce YOU statements

Express your feelings (“I’m feeling …”). Name the emotion and don’t explain the rationale behind your feelings

Assert your needs (“I need …”). Be concrete and direct in your language. Remember you can’t force anyone else to feel a certain way, so try to keep it focused on your needs versus their response

Reinforce the outcome (“And by doing this …”). What will they gain by meeting your needs?


Mindful. Take a minute to check in with how you’re feeling. Ask yourself “what’s going on for me?”

Appear confident. Body language and postures are super important, so make sure you are standing or sitting up straight with an open posture. What do you need to do to appear confident?

Negotiate. Be open to making and hearing suggestions. See if you and the other person can agree on something that works for both of you. What is/isn’t negotiable?


Learning how to stand up for ourselves while still respecting the needs and limits of other people can take a lot of practice.  Remember to be kind to yourself if some of these interpersonal skills feel newer. Many of us have years of unhealthy relationship habits or patterns to undo. You can and you will undo them – you are making a choice now to do things differently.

It is recommended that you try applying this with someone you trust and can make small requests with before you start using this in more challenging situations.

Good luck!

Written by Vivian Zhang, Clinical Therapist at Balanced Mind and Wellness Inc.

To learn more about how we can support you with developing healthy boundaries and communication tools, contact us at or 647-961-9669.

Content from this blog post is adapted from DBT Skills Training: Handouts and Worksheets (Linehan, 2015).