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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.